Search Minerals' multi-stage processing is designed to deliver high-throughput, low-cost production while minimizing environmental impact. It consists of two phases: primary processing and secondary processing.
Search's primary processing consists of a non-chemical magnetic separation process which involves crushing and grinding materials and feeding the material into a magnetic separation circuit. This includes Low Intensity Magnetic Separation (LIMS) to separate magnetite and Wet High Intensity Magnetic Separation (WHIMS). The outputs from this process are a Rare Earth Element (REE) concentrate of approximately 3.5%, iron and zirconium concentrate, and non-deleterious magnetic rejects which would be combined within the mine site waste rock pile for permanent storage.
The REE concentrate would be shipped offsite for secondary processing.
Secondary processing begins with a series of hydrometallurgical leaching tanks to purify rare earth concentrate into product containing mixed rare earth oxides (REOs). A dry stackable hydrometallurgical residue will be produced.
The proposed hydrometallurgical process starts with an acid bake process. This is a widely practised method of decomposing REE minerals and is presently used to produce most of the world's REE supply. The proposed Search Minerals plant would dissolve the REE from the acid bake product and remove impurities through hydrolysis in a fairly standard process. The balance of the process includes REE precipitation and releach followed by multiple stages of purification ahead of REE carbonate precipitation.
The Hydrometallurgical Processing Plant is planned to be constructed on an existing brownfield site on the island of Newfoundland. The exact location of the Hydrometallurgical Processing Plant has not yet been selected.
After the hydrometallurgical process is completed, solvent extraction can begin. This process uses solvents to further separate the rare earth oxides into individual oxides of permanent magnet materials, allowing them to be made into magnet materials using the metals alloy production process.
Metals Alloy Production
In this stage, the individual oxides produced through solvent extraction are made into permanent magnet metals by Search and our partners, which can then be turned into thousands of vital products by manufacturers. This vertical integration creates greater value and allows us to directly support the North American rare earth supply chain.