A simple flowsheet is the key that unlocks the value in the Kvanefjeld story.

The flowsheet has two stages. The first stage, industry standard froth flotation, concentrates the key rare earth bearing mineral steenstrupine. Zinc concentrate and fluorspar are also produced in this stage.

The second stage, hydrometallurgical leaching of the steenstrupine concentrate followed by uranium solvent extraction. Uranium is recovered from the solvent extraction process to produce a uranium oxide final product. The rare earths are not extracted during the uranium solvent extraction process. They remain in a concentrated solution which is readily available as an intermediate product. It forms a direct feed to a rare earth separation plant.

Typically,  very high temperatures and pressures and aggressive chemical approaches are required to extract rare earths from more common rare earth bearing minerals. The unusual Kvanefjeld minerals readily liberate rare earths in a simple atmospheric acid leach.

Both stages have been extensively piloted, and the flowsheet is currently undergoing further optimisation under guidance from Shenghe Resources Holding Co Ltd; a world leader in rare earth processing technology. Optimisation test work has been extremely successful to date, and will result in simplifications and substantial improvements in efficiency and cost-structure.