Arafura Releases Nolans Pilot Plant Outcomes

Arafura Resources Limited has released an update on the flowsheet piloting program for its 100 percent-owned Nolans neodymium-praseodymium (NdPr) project in the Northern Territory, and outcomes from the recently completed Acid Bake pilot plant.

Arafura Resources Limited (ASX:ARU) has released an update on the flowsheet piloting program for its 100 percent-owned Nolans neodymium-praseodymium (NdPr) project in the Northern Territory, and outcomes from the recently completed Acid Bake pilot plant.

As quoted from the press release:

Key objectives of the piloting program are to acquire process performance, materials handling and mechanical engineering design data for the Nolans Definitive Feasibility Study (DFS), as well as to generate sufficient quantities of final NdPr product to allow for a comprehensive program of pre-qualification testing by Arafura’s key customers in the rare earth magnet manufacturing sector.

Drawing on the successful application of paddle dryer technology to sulphuric acid bake in the smallscale trials conducted in late 2017 (refer to ASX announcements 19 October and 13 December 2017), Arafura proceeded to design, build, test, commission and operate a larger-scale pilot to replicate the sulphation area of Arafura’s flowsheet. This area of the flowsheet uses concentrated sulphuric acid to convert rare earth minerals in pre-leach residue (PLR) to water-soluble rare earth sulphate material. It includes an acid mix, acid bake, and cooling stage in series.

In advance of operating the pilot, the company, in partnership with Bossong Engineering, SGS Australia, ANDRITZ Gouda and Curtin University, undertook an extensive program of equipment testing using synthetic analogues of process material and phosphate-rich material types from Nolans (refer to ASX announcement 19 April 2018). This program helped drive optimizations of the pilot setup ahead of its construction, including but not limited to the relative positioning of feed points, angles of inclination, and paddle shaft rotation speeds. Once equipment parameters had been optimized, commissioning of the pilot plant was conducted, allowing the evaluation of residence time distribution across each of the pilot’s unit operations.

“Acid bake is widely regarded both internally and in external feedback as the most significant execution risk item for the Nolans flowsheet. We and our partners in this pilot are comfortable in concluding that paddle dryer technology is highly suitable for processing Nolans NdPr-rich pre-leach residue material,” said Arafura’s managing director Gavin Lockyer.

Click here to read the full announcement

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