In a news release, Defense Metals Corp. (DEFN:TSX.V; DFMTF:OTCQB; 35D:FSE)) reported that it has "received additional pre-pilot hydrometallurgical test work utilizing high-grade rare earth element (REE) mineral concentrate produced during the company's highly successful 26-tonne flotation pilot-plant that yielded a mineral concentrate averaging 7.4% NdPr oxide (neodymium-praseodymium)."
Defense Metals advised that the Wicheeda REE Property encompasses 1,708 hectares and is situated about 80 km northeast of Prince George in British Columbia. The firm noted that the property is accessible by all-weather gravel roads and is located close to necessary infrastructure including power supply lines, major highways and the CN railway.
The company noted that according to the findings from a Technical Report prepared in June 2020, "the Wicheeda REE project has indicated mineral resources of 4,890,000 tonnes averaging 3.02% LREO (Light Rare Earth Elements) and inferred mineral resources of 12,100,000 tonnes averaging 2.90% LREO."
Defense Metals advised that the infill hydrometallurgical tests carried out at SGS Canada's Lakefield Site were concentrated on optimizing gangue leach test conditions. The results from the tests conducted showed that "gangue leach optimization resulted in increased manganese rejection from ~40% (pH 4) to ~85% (pH 3) from the flotation concentrate resulting in only minimal REE losses of approximately 1% and increased concentrate weight reduction from <10% gauge loss to >20%."
The company explained that hydrometallurgical optimization test work is continuing and is focused on ways to reduce caustic crack retention time and acid concentrations in the caustic crack residue leach to decrease acid consumption and the amount of neutralization required downstream.
The firm's CEO Craig Taylor commented, "Defense Metals is extremely pleased with rapid advances being made in our pre-pilot hydrometallurgical optimization. We continue fine-tune our gangue leach, via milder conditions versus base case, with an eye to striking the optimal balance of high front-end impurity rejection with minimal REE losses. The results announced today speak to the success of these efforts."
The company stated that the Wicheeda REE Property is located in the Foreland Belt within the Rocky Mountain Trench. The belt stretches from Canada to the southwestern U.S. and hosts the Aley (niobium), Rock Canyon (REE) and Wicheeda (REE) deposits. The company noted that it holds an option allowing it to acquire 100% the Wicheeda REE Property.
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