Ucore Rare Metals Inc. (Bedford, Nova Scotia, Canada; www.ucore.com) has announced the completion of construction of all Molecular Recognition Technology (MRT) superstructure, processing architecture, automation systems, and initial water testing of the SuperLig-One rare-earth separation pilot plant by IBC Advanced Technologies of American Fork, Utah.
The SuperLig-One pilot plant is now in a pre-production quality control and testing phase at the Vineyard industrial facility near Salt Lake City, Utah. All fluids containment units have been installed and are ready for the delivery, pre-production preparation and storage of pregnant leach solution (PLS).
Detailed MRT valving, liquid and compressed air conveyance systems, as well as circuits and switching units, have been skid-mounted and stationed in the processing grid. The fluid propulsion, pumping and delivery systems are in place. Columns have been installed and mounted within the processing circuit. An array of rare earth class separation and individual separation containment vessels have been installed.
Customized automation software, hardware and control interfaces have been installed and tested. A post-processing quality control analysis and testing station has been completed. A comprehensive materials shelving and storage area has been installed, and a materials receiving and shipping station is now complete and ready for PLS feedstock.
The next stage of Pilot Plant process is the commissioning phase, scheduled to commence this month, which will include the initial start-up of the processing systems, further water testing, followed by the receiving of PLS. The water testing is a necessary procedure to ensure that automation systems are performing to standard, to eliminate any minor leakage within the SuperLig columns and related components, and trial test the entire process flow. Each section of the Plant, corresponding to the different unit operations to be performed, will be water tested prior to testing with actual PLS.
“The completion of SuperLig-One is a significant milestone for Ucore,” said Jim McKenzie, President and CEO of Ucore.” The construction of this facility is the culmination of over two years of intensive research, design and development. IBC is the world leader in molecular recognition applications to the resource industry, and this pilot facility represents a disruptive technology asserting itself in an important class of materials science: the separation of metals of utmost priority to the US economy, clean energy, high technology and emerging defense systems. We applaud the scientists and engineers at IBC Advanced Technologies for this outstanding achievement of science and design, and look forward to the successful completion of near term test trials using domestic feedstock.”
The SuperLig-One pilot program has been designed to demonstrate a number of key separations within the lanthanide suite, and to demonstrate the flexibility of the MRT system and its capability to add value in processing a multi-component PLS. Salient aspects of the Pilot Plant process will be the demonstration of the recovery of >99% of the REEs, as a class, as well as the separation of high-value REEs, as individuals or groups, without the need for first separating individual, lower value, lanthanides such as La and Ce.
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