Windsor company plans to extract rare-earth elements at N.S. site
January 5, 2012 – 7:58pm BY BILL POWER BUSINESS REPORTER
Rare Earth Mineral Sands Inc. of Windsor raised $1.3 million in a private placement and is ramping up its plan to extract light rare earth elements from the red mud of Cobequid Bay and the Shubenacadie River.
“Mother Nature has processed the material. We just have to separate it into its component parts,” president and chief executive officer James White said in an interview.
The privately held company initially said it was seeking to raise about $2.5 million, but it considers the private placement a success and is ready to proceed with a major drilling program and mineralogy studies by an Australian laboratory.
Details on public offering will be announced in the coming months.
Some pre-feasibility work on a separation and drying plant, design work on dredging equipment and a final environmental assessment will be part of the work to be completed this year in advance of beginning production in 2013, said White.
Rare earth minerals are used in everything from cellphones to wind turbines and they are in high demand all over the world, he said.
“We have some engineering challenges to contend with due to the powerful tidal action of the Bay of Fundy tides that flow aggressively in the Shubenacadie River,” he said.
Rare Earth Mineral Sands wants to develop a major mineral sand project on about 593 adjoining claims covering 9,488 hectares in Cobequid Bay and the Shubenacadie River areas.
Initial tests found significant quantities of cerium, lanthanum and neodymium in monazite sand in the exploration area.
White said trillions of dollars worth of gross domestic product in the United States and Canada depends of the use of light rare earth minerals.
However, China produces virtually all rare earth elements and last week announced more reductions of export quotas for 2012.
Preliminary results also confirmed the presence of commercial quantities of titanium, iron ore and zircon and discussions with major buyers of these minerals are underway, White said.
When production proceeds in 2013, the plan is to locate a “separation dry plant” onshore. Mud will be dredged up into a floating processing plant and about 95 per cent of the rare material will be immediately returned to the dredging site after desired minerals are extracted.
Some uncertainty with light rare earth elements prices for 2012 is predicted in the latest edition of Forbes. The finance publication reported in its 2012 outlook that the price of neodymium, for example, is beginning the year at $270 per kilogram, about half its 2011 peak.
The publication predicted some price stabilization on prices for rare earth minerals later in the year.
Neodymium is used in magnets and is one of the rare earth minerals found is significant quantities in Cobequid Bay and the Shubenacadie River region.