Orbite Aluminae produces the first North American heavy rare earths from aluminous clay; prepares for commercialization in 2013
11 August 2012
Canada-based Orbite Aluminae Inc. reports that it has successfully extracted the first commercial samples of heavy rare earth oxides—gallium and scandium—from its aluminous clay deposit in Grande-Vallée, Québec.
The company says it is poised to become the first commercial North American gallium and scandium producer. By 2013, it plans to offer heavy rare earth separation services to third parties and to produce its own resources by 2014.
Rare earths (dysprosium, erbium, neodymium, praseodymium, etc.) and rare metals (gallium, scandium, yttrium) are products of high commercial value considered scarce and seldom available in high enough concentrations to be profitable. Orbite’s technology allows for the low-cost extraction of rare earths and rare metals using the alumina extraction process.
The Orbite process of producing metallurgical-grade alumina involves crushing and then acid-leaching aluminous claystone. By using various temperatures and pH levels, the process selectively isolates the aluminum component and removes iron and other impurities.
Orbite has evaluated the content of its Grande-Vallée aluminous clay deposit at more than 22% (ratio to total rare earths) in heavy rare earths and has noted a strong presence of scandium. To conduct testing for the extraction of individual rare earth and rare metal samples, Orbite retained the services of European companies CMI-UVK and MEAB, which validated extraction rates of more than 93% purity, i.e.: gallium at 93.86%; scandium at 93.11%; yttrium at 87.47%; neodymium and dysprosium, both at 99.9%; cerium at 99.5%; and gallium oxide at 99.99%.
China is currently home to the majority of the world’s rare earths. The United States and Australia also hold considerable reserves but have been unable to maximize their potential due to the competitiveness of Chinese pricing and the environmental issues surrounding the commercialization of these products.
Orbite has not yet completed a feasibility study and there is no certainty the proposed operations will be economically viable. Mineral resources that are not mineral reserves do not have demonstrated economic viability.
TrackBack URL for this entry:
Listed below are links to weblogs that reference Orbite Aluminae produces the first North American heavy rare earths from aluminous clay; prepares for commercialization in 2013: