Leading Edge Materials Corp (CVE:LEM) reported positive results from testing of material from its Norra Karr heavy REE (rare earth element) deposit, including a development process it describes as a potential "game -changer".
The research was completed under the European Commission-financed EURARE project and made significant technical milestones.
Produced was around 25kg of mixed REE carbonate from concentrate, using a new hydrometallurgical method, LEM said.
Significantly, this delivered high REE recovery with a substantial reduction in water used and recovered additional high-value metals hafnium and zirconium.
LEM president and chief executive Blair Way said: "The dry digestion hydrometallurgical process is a potential game changer, with the opportunity for efficient recovery of additional high-value metals, and a process that may substantially reduce the environmental footprint.
"While Norra Karr has long been known as potential source of nepheline, with a large sample now available for additional test work we are in a strong position to identify market opportunities."
Norra Karr has a proven mineral reserve of 23.6mln tonnes at 0.59% total rare earth oxide (TREO).
A prefeasibility study in 2015 estimated an after-tax net present value (NPV) of US$313mln.
Leading Edge pointed to a significant recent rise in REE prices, with the magnetic metals increasing by more than 50% in the year to August, 2017.
Preparation of additional supporting documentation regarding the Norra Karr mining lease, which was granted in 2013, is under way and is anticipated to be ready for submission to the Swedish Mining Inspectorate during December, 2017.
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