Greenland Minerals and Energy Ltd., headquartered in Subiaco, Western Australia, has reported the results of a feasibility study of its Kvanefjeld rare earth-uranium project in southern Greenland. The $1.36 billion project will include surface mining by a mining contractor, a flotation concentrator and a refinery. The project’s primary product will be a mixed concentrate of critical rare earth oxides (neodymium, praseodymium, europium, dysprosium, terbium, and yttrium). Byproducts will include uranium oxide, lanthanum and cerium products, zinc concentrate, and fluorspar.
Concentrator throughput is planned at 3 million mt/y. The concentrator will sequentially produce a zinc sphalerite concentrate and then a uranium-bearing rare earth phosphate concentrate. The latter will be pumped via a pipeline to the refinery, where uranium will be leached out in a counter-current sulphuric acid leaching circuit. Uranium then will be recovered in a solvent extraction circuit.
The sulphuric acid leach residue will be treated atmospherically with caustic to condition the solids prior to releaching in hydrochloric acid at room temperature to produce a rare earth chloride solution. Lanthanum and cerium will be removed from the rare earth chloride solution using solvent extraction to produce four different rare earth products: lanthanum oxide, 99% grade; cerium hydroxide, 99% grade; mixed lanthanum and cerium oxide, 99% grade; and mixed praseodymium and lutetium oxide.
Greenland Minerals and Energy is in talks with China Non-Ferrous Metal Industry’s Foreign Engineering and Construction Co. concerning the separation of the critical rare earth concentrates from Kvanefjeld into high-purity individual rare earth oxides and the subsequent product marketing to end-users globally.
The process flowsheet has been the subject of extensive test work, including three pilot plant campaigns. Further pilot plant work on the refinery flowsheet is planned at Outotec Laboratories in Pori, Finland, in September 2015.
The Kvanefjeld resource will support an initial mine life of 37 years and provides scope to expand production and/or extend the life of the mine. Greenland Minerals and Energy is working to complete the environmental and social impact assessments for the project in the third quarter of 2015 and will subsequently lodge an exploitation license application with the Greenland government.
The Kvanefjeld project is located near existing infrastructure and townships in southern Greenland, with direct shipping access year round and an international airport 35 km away. New port facilities will be built to serve the project. Electrical power and heating will be provided by a power plant at the concentrator site.