Ucore Rare Metals reported that it has successfully separated each of the rare earth elements (REEs) from a pregnant leach solution of feedstock derived from the company’s Bokan-Dotson Ridge rare earths project on Prince of Wales Island at the southern end of the Alaska panhandle. Utilizing a proprietary Molecular Recognition Technology (MRT) circuit developed by IBC Advanced Technologies Inc. of American Fork, Utah, Ucore separated each of the REEs as a carbonate, with purity levels consistently meeting or exceeding 99%.

The separation procedure, employing a customized SuperLig hydrometallurgical process, was accomplished across the entire lanthanide suite, from lanthanum to lutetium, plus yttrium and scandium. “This is an impressive accomplishment and one that Ucore has been pursuing for several years,” Ucore President and CEO Jim McKenzie said. “The separation of high-purity REEs without the use of environmentally costly and capital-intensive solvent extraction methodologies is a much sought-after goal. MRT offers a means of separating REEs to high purity in a rapid and cost-effective manner, and with an exceptional level of selectivity and precision.”

Ucore also reported that it has entered into an agreement with IBC to acquire exclusive rights to SuperLig technology for REE separation, recycling and tailings processing applications. Ucore will pay IBC a one-time, $2.9 million licensing fee, subject to the delivery by IBC of a fully operational rare earth SuperLig pilot plant and due diligence review by Ucore. The pilot plant will be constructed at SepraMet, a wholly owned IBC subsidiary, in Houston, Texas.

Under the terms of the agreement, Ucore and IBC will form a joint venture to market SuperLig products and services exclusively to world markets in REE, recycling, and tailings processing. Ucore will have a controlling interest (60%) in the joint venture; IBC will retain a 40% beneficial interest.

“We’re delighted that IBC, the recognized world leader in the highly specialized field of MRT, has now partnered with Ucore to bring this proven separation platform to the rare earth sector,” McKenzie said.