Minera BioLantanidos goal is to become a leading rare earth elements producer in the world.
Minera BioLantanidos (MBL) has recently completed a comprehensive Feasibility Study (FS) on El Cabrito, a Rare Earth Elements (REE) project located in the southern Coastal Mountain Range of Chile, which would be the first project to be developed by MBL among others in the pipeline.
El Cabrito is a Rare Earth project that would position MBL as one of the lowest opex and capex REE operations in the world. The Project would be sustainable and allow traceability of its product: a Rare Earth Oxides (REO) Concentrate of high purity (> 92%) suitable for downstream separation.
The Project mineralization, Ion-Adsorption Clays rich in Heavy Rare Earth Elements (HREE), is one of the main competitive advantages of El Cabrito. The ore can be easily extracted and is significantly concentrated, which lowers the Production Costs and makes an efficient use of the resources and supplies.
One of the key values of the Project is its proprietary extraction process called Close Continuous Leaching Process (CCLP), an environmentally friendly method that optimizes the extraction of Rare Earth through the recirculation of water and reagents, obtaining REO Concentrate with purity higher than 92%.
MBL began exploring REE in northern Chile, focusing on Iron Oxide Copper Gold (IOCG) ore deposits and Iron Apatite deposits. Nevertheless, the interest in this type decreased after it was reflected that these deposits are uncompetitive, because they are characterized by low-grade, low volumes and complex metallurgy.
Considering the above, in 2012 the focus of the exploration program shifted to an Ion Adsorption Clay model such as the deposits existing in Southern China. This marks the beginning of the study and geological mapping of the Coastal Batholith of southern Chile, in the Bío Bío Region, with main focus on two types of target: migmatites -Santa Juana- and pegmatites –Florida-, leading to the discovery of the peraluminous granite of Penco. The High Rare Earth anomalies detected in Penco granites were found in outcrops of slopes by new roads, with little development of soil or plants.
By July 2014, a total of 1,045 [m] had been drilled through 37 sonic core-holes, while 446 [m] were drilled using diamond drill technology to recover unaltered rock.
In September 2014, drilling of Phase II started including a second sonic machine acquired in December of the same year. This program ends in June 2015, completing 4,857 [m] in 166 sonic drill-holes and 1,202 [m] in 11 diamond drill-holes. During this period the areas of Penco, El Cabrito -Marisol and Paula-, Celco Centro -Victoria, Josefina, Paloma, Almendra, and Alexandra-, Penco Este -Pía- and Cantera Vertedero -Luna y Maite-, are defined and the geologic map of the district is completed at a scale of 1: 2,000.
In August 2015 drilling of Phase III started in Penco, completing 3,239 meters in 125 sonic drill-holes. Parallel to this, since October of the same year, Río Lía sector is drilled, completing 1,126 meters in 31 sonic drill-holes. Drilling ended in late January of 2016.
Pit and Waste Deposit Design.
Open pits are designed with the support of Lerchs and Grossman´s algorithm. Depending on the amount of resources of each mineralized zone it is establish if it is or is not relevant to make phases on the pits -pit by pit graph do not show differences between worst case and best case scenario to low tonnage zones-. As a result of this, all pits have one phase and only one pit has three phases. The design of open pits considers the place of access, ramp design, minimum haulage width and others characteristics.
El Cabrito Project is located in the Penco District, approximately 2 [km] from the city downtown.
For reference, Penco is in the northwest area of the Bío Bío region, limiting to the North with the Tomé District, to the East with the Florida District and West and South with the Talcahuano and Concepción Districts respectively.
MBL has designed, tested and validated its proprietary extraction method called Close Continuous Leaching Process (CCLP), an innovative process that allows the processing of clays in order to extract ionic exchangeable Rare Earth Oxides in a continuous, economical and sustainable manner.
The CCLP process includes a series of stages, from the reception of clays to the phase where the Concentrate is under specification and ready to be sent to the final consumer.
The Company has hosted visits to the Project site to show the extent of the ion-clay mineralization and to the pilot plant campaigns to demonstrate its ability to significantly concentrate, and process the ore into a high purity product suitable for downstream separation. Samples of the mixed RE carbonate produced during these campaigns have been supplied to several parties for evaluation to ensure it meets potential customer requirements.
Today the company is developing and has already closed Off Take agreements for its products as well as developed several conversations with concentrate separations suppliers in order to install a separation plant at the facility.
Río Lía Exploration Project is located in Santa Juana area, which also shows exploration mining properties of MBL. Details of the location and exploration concessions in Río Lía are shown below.