Toronto-based Avalon Rare Metals has announced the results of a prefeasibility study for a rare earth elements separation plant potentially to be located in Louisiana.

The plant is designed to treat chemical concentrates containing a blend of light and heavy rare earth elements originating from the Avalon’s Nechalacho rare earth elements deposit at Thor Lake, Northwest Territories, Canada.

These chemical concentrates will be produced from two hydrometallurgical facilities: a sulphuric acid bake plant planned for the Northwest Territories and a second cracking plant, which is presently contemplated to be co-located with the separation plant, as it also requires hydrochloric acid and caustic soda.

The Nechalacho project feasibility study is scheduled for completion by the end of 2012.

The separation plant is designed to produce 10 different pure rare earth oxides and one pure mixed heavy rare earth carbonate for sale. The prefeasibility study for the plant was completed by SNC-Lavalin.

The estimated capital cost for a plant with 10,000 mt/y of production capacity is $302 million. The estimated operating cost is $5,634/mt of rare earth oxide product, which includes labor, operating supplies, reagents and maintenance costs.