Proactive: American Rare Earths buoyed by zircon co-product potential at Halleck Creek


American Rare Earths Ltd (ASX:ARR, OTCQB:ARRNF) has revealed high-value zircon as a potential co-product alongside rare earth elements (REEs) at its flagship Halleck Creek Project in Wyoming.

A research collaboration with the School of Energy Resources (SER) at the University of Wyoming has demonstrated that zirconium can be easily separated and upgraded, owing to its density, as part of the REEs preconcentration steps in the Halleck Creek flowsheet.

With zircon supply limited and the metal being essential in high-growth industries like ceramics, electronics and nuclear energy resulting in increased global demand, this potentially provides significant economic value when produced alongside REEs as a co-product.

Revenue potential

American Rare Earths chief executive officer Donald Swartz said: “Zircon is typically a minor product obtained from processing heavy mineral sands and has many high-value applications across multiple industries.

“We are thrilled to announce the discovery of a potential co-product in our Halleck Creek project. This potential was only recently identified as part of our previously announced REE processing program modifications emphasising Dense Medium Cyclones work led by Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory.

“This opportunity has the potential to generate significant additional revenue and enhanced project economics.”

More prevalent

Initial and historical exploration assay results indicate the potential for significant zircon co-product potential alongside rare earths at Halleck Creek.

Historical assay results for zirconium indicate an average in-situ grade is 2,077 ppm. The average crustal abundance is 300 ppm for comparison purposes.

Zircon, like allanite, contains REE elements and, has the potential to be a significant contributor of heavy REEs (HREE) at the project.

Through the research collaboration with the University of Wyoming, ARR believes that zircon is more prevalent at Halleck Creek than previously believed.

University collaboration

Dr Lily Jackson, an expert in sedimentology, tectonics and geochronology from SER, has led this research.

The initial collaboration consists of performing QEMSCAN analysis at the University of Wyoming, to provide quantitative mineral analysis, and benchtop-scale REE leaching to assess how metamictization of zircon affects extraction of REEs from zircon.

SER’s work has shown that zirconium can be easily separated and upgraded, owing to its density, as part of the REEs pre-concentration steps in the Halleck Creek flowsheet.

Initial assay results from the gravity separation program (spiral testing) within the REEs program provided a 13.7x upgrade which equates to ~2.3%.

Ongoing work

Beneficiation work being carried out includes testing to separate and further concentrate zirconium using gravity separation and magnetic removal of paramagnetic minerals to further upgrade the material.

Laser ablation assay of zircon crystals show elevated levels of heavy REEs, providing additional upside.

This work is a significant step forward in understanding the potential of zircon within the Red Mountain pluton at Halleck Creek.

Future exploration and metallurgy work is focused on several opportunities:

  • Separated zirconium concentrate as a co-product; and
  • Heavy REEs extraction from metamict zircon.

“Further details will be provided as we continue our assessment and evolve our strategy to maximise value for our shareholders,” Swartz added.




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