Montero Mining and Exploration Ltd. (CVE:MON) said Thursday that it has come to an agreement to collaborate with Mintek to further develop and optimize the Montero Stage 1 leaching process.
Johannesburg, South Africa-based Mintek is an internationally recognized metallurgical research and testwork facility.
Montero said the efforts will yield an improvement in the economics of the Montero process as well as assisting Mintek’s program of developing its proprietary technology for the refining and separation of rare earth elements.
"By collaborating on Mintek’s program of developing new and innovative process routes for separating Rare Earth Elements, Montero expects to increase its options to ultimately adopt the refining strategy that extracts maximum value from its REE project," Montero president and CEO Dr. Tony Harwood said.
Mintek will continue Montero's bulk leach test program at a pilot plant scale to verify and optimize the leaching process already developed by Mintek and Montero for the Wigu Hill Rare Earth Element (REE) project.
In return, Montero will provide Mintek with a bulk sample from the Wigu Hill Deposit to be used by Mintek as part of Mintek’s program to develop its independent, proprietary refining technology for producing individually-separated REE products.
Effectively Mintek will be conducting two parallel testwork programs – the first specific to the Wigu Hill Deposit and using conventional, non-proprietary refining technology and the second being Mintek’s proprietary process in the early stages of development.
"With Mintek’s proven track record of success in the development of new technologies for the refining of metals, we expect that this development will allow Montero to continue on our strategy to become a low cost Rare Earth producer," Montero's Harwood added.
Mintek will compare the two technologies as part of the program and, if Mintek's proprietary technology offers benefits to Montero, the parties will investigate ways in which Montero might access the Mintek technology.
Through this collaboration, Montero said it expects to get early insight into alternative, innovative refining technologies.
Montero's Wigu Hill project is a light rare earth element deposit and a large carbonite complex with bastnaesite mineralization located in Tanzania. It covers a 142 square kilometre area and grab samples have yielded results as high as 27.57% total rare earth oxides.
REEs are critical in the development of emerging green technologies and high-tech applications, from electric and hybrid vehicles and wind and hydro power turbines, to LCD screens, MRI and X-ray machines, mobile devices and other computing equipment.
Montero also has uranium assets in Tanzania and Quebec, and phosphate assets in South Africa.