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Northern Minerals plans to add ore sorting circuit at Browns Range pilot plant

Northern Minerals Ltd. outlined plans to add an ore sorting circuit to the pilot plant at its Browns Range heavy rare earths project in Western Australia in the second quarter of 2019.

The company, which aims to double the grade of the mill feed, said it will first work on additional test work, approvals, planning and funding.

The plant recently produced its first rare earth carbonate after the start of commissioning in June.

Capital costs for the modification are estimated at A$4 million, the company said Oct. 11. The circuit will establish mill feed stockpiles of upgraded sorted ore, a separate fines stockpile and potentially a blend stockpile of both; rejected low-grade ore will be stockpiled for processing at a later stage.

The existing processing plant was deemed suitable for the ore sorting circuit. The plant has crushing capacity of 216,000 tonnes per year, while the downstream beneficiation plant has a nameplate capacity of 72,000 t/y.

"Ore sorting technology is readily available through a number of providers and our studies on the five existing run-of-mine stockpiles have shown the potential for significant improvements in both processing plant efficiency and value recovery of heavy rare earth elements through its use," Managing Director and CEO George Bauk said.