Company gets boost for rare earth minerals work

Ashley
Ashley Fitzpatrick
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Search Minerals receives $225,000 from provincial, federal governments

Junior mining company Search Minerals will be spending the first half of 2014 testing for the best way to extract rare earth elements from material carved from the ground in Labrador.

Earlier this week, the company was provided $225,000 for the metallurgy work. The contribution is even-split between the provincial and federal governments.

“Search Minerals is focused right now on strategic metals and in Labrador we have a pretty impressive rare earth element project and that project is located close to Mary’s Harbour. It’s close to tide water. It’s pretty spectacular with respect to other projects one has available globally,” said Stephen Keith, Search Minerals’ president and CEO, speaking from the company’s offices in Toronto Tuesday.

Despite its positive features, the company’s Foxtrot project near Port Hope Simpson is still currently closer to a prospect than a developed mine, with two preliminary economic assessments, but no detailed feasibility study yet completed. The latter is typically needed for financing and mine construction.

Keith said the next step for the company is to complete its due diligence on its options and, in particular, complete any studies capable of making a potential mine development in Labrador as cost-effective a proposal as possible.

“One of the critical elements in anything like this, especially with complex minerals like the rare earth elements, is metallurgy,” Keith said.

“How do you extract the metals from the rock? Can you do it economically and how refined can you get it?”

The government funding awarded to Search Minerals is being provided through the province’s Research and Development Corp. (RDC) and the Atlantic Canada Opportunities Agency.

In addition to the $225,000, the junior mining company has committed $75,000 of its own, bringing the total to $300,000 in working capital.

“Labrador’s rare-earth-element and rare-metal prospects and deposits have great potential. We are pleased to invest in research that supports the opportunity to solve technical challenges and generate increased economic activity,” RDC CEO Glenn Janes said in a statement announcing the public funding.

“This is a collaborative research and development project with tremendous potential for Labrador and Search Minerals. By investing $112,500 in this technology we are supporting the opportunity for new mineral production in Labrador and the development of innovative technologies to benefit industry,” said the minister responsible for RDC, Charlene Johnson, in the same statement.

Rare earth elements are used by the oil industry, but also in tech manufacturing for anything from flat-screen TVs to energy-efficient lighting.

Search Minerals is working with SGS Canada Inc. to test ore samples from the Foxtrot Project. The work is espected to continue until June.

afitzpatrick@thetelegram.com

Organizations: Research and Development, Atlantic Canada Opportunities Agency.In, SGS Canada

Geographic location: Labrador, Port Hope Simpson

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  • Fred Poole
    January 28, 2014 - 09:21

    Would like to point out the the FOXTROT project is only 7km from ST. Lewis a deep-water port on the Southern Labrador Coast with docking facilities and a functional airport..