Ontario-based Avalon Rare Metals has entered into an agreement with Solvay to have Solvay process Avalon’s rare earth concentrate into pure rare earth oxides for an anticipated period of 10 years from the start of deliveries to Solvay’s rare earth separation and refining plant located in La Rochelle, France. In addition, effective immediately, Solvay will provide Avalon with technical support for the further design optimization, engineering and commissioning of Avalon’s hydrometallurgical processing plant.
Avalon will ship a concentrate to La Rochelle containing 98.5% Rare Earth Oxide (REO) and Solvay will return separated oxides of praseodymium (Pr), neodymium (Nd), europium (Eu), gadolinium (Gd), terbium (Tb), dysprosium (Dy), lutetium (Lu) and yttrium (Y) ranging in purity from 99.5% to 99.99%.
The Tolling Agreement also provides Solvay with the opportunity to purchase selected REO from Avalon. All rare earth products not purchased by Solvay will be sold by Avalon and delivered directly from the La Rochelle plant.
Avalon is continuing its feasibility study optimization work and will now integrate the Solvay Tolling Agreement into the project development model. The decision to use Solvay’s facilities to refine the company’s mixed rare earth concentrate makes the property optioned in Geismar, Louisiana for a refinery, potentially available as an alternative location for the hydrometallurgical facility, originally contemplated for Pine Point, NWT.
Avalon’s next steps are primarily focused on producing an updated Technical Report incorporating the results of all the recent optimization work. Other goals for 2014 include completing land use permit applications, carrying out additional pilot plant trials of the new hydrometallurgical plant flowsheet needed to finalize detailed plant designs and engineering, securing commitments on off-take and arranging project financing. Commencing 31 December 2014, Solvay will have certain termination rights until project financing is achieved.