Tag Archives: Saskatchewan Research Council

Canada invests in Suncor-backed clay content analyser project for mining sector

Canada’s Minister of Natural Resources, Seamus O’Regan, has announced a C$1.6 million ($1.2 million) investment in the development of an analyser able to provide near real-time measurements of the active clay content in oil sands and mine tailings.

The project, led by the Saskatchewan Research Council with Suncor Energy Inc and the Northern Alberta Institute of Technology as partners, could prove beneficial to Canada’s diamond, potash and oil sands sectors.

On top of the Federal Government’s funding, through Natural Resources Canada’s Clean Growth Program, the project collaborators are also providing in-kind and financial contributions, bringing the overall project value to C$2.29 million.

Clay is naturally present in varying quantities within minerals deposits and presents a significant tailings management challenge. The clay analyser will assist in near real-time measurements of clay concentrations, which will allow the companies to develop strategies for effective process control and tailings management options that can reduce the use of chemicals, resulting in operating cost savings and reducing tailing deposit footprints.

The technology is also applicable to different types of mines, such as diamond, potash and oil sands, and will have various environmental benefits, including improved water management and reduced land disturbance, leading to progressive reclamation of mine sites, the government said.

Natural Resources Canada’s Clean Growth Program invests in clean technology research and development projects in Canada’s energy, mining and forest sectors. The program is a C$155 million investment fund that helps emerging clean technologies further reduce their impacts on air, land and water while enhancing competitiveness and creating jobs.

(photo: Suncor Energy’s oil sands)

Saskatchewan to create Canada’s first rare earth processing facility at SRC

The Government of Saskatchewan has announced C$31 million ($23 million) in funding for a rare earth processing facility in the province, delivering, it says, on a key element of its 2030 Growth Plan.

The facility will be owned and operated by the Saskatchewan Research Council (SRC). It will be the first-of-its-kind in Canada and will begin to establish a rare earth element (REE) supply chain in Saskatchewan, forming an industry model for future commercial REE resource expansion in the province, the government says.

Global demand for REEs will increase significantly in the coming decade as demand for electric vehicles, renewable power generation and all forms of electronics increases, it added.

“Saskatchewan’s new rare earth processing facility will be a catalyst to stimulate the resource sector in Saskatchewan and across Canada, providing the early-stage supply chain needed to generate cash flow, investment and industrial growth of the sector,” Saskatchewan Premier, Scott Moe, said. “It will also help ensure the competitiveness of Saskatchewan as we focus on our economic recovery and grow our province over the next decade.”

Minister responsible for the SRC, Jeremy Harrison, said: “Saskatchewan has a globally recognised mining industry, workforce and culture with local companies already beginning to explore REE deposits both in Saskatchewan, and in surrounding provinces and territories. This facility will allow the REE industry to grow and create both immediate and long-term jobs.”

The conversion of REE ore to individual REE products is carried out in two main stages. The first is the concentration of ore to mixed REE carbonate. The second is the more complex separation stage that converts the mixed REE carbonate to commercial pure-grade REEs. The facility will address both stages of REE processing, according to the government.

The facility will be able to process both main hard rock ores (bastnaesite and monazite) and in the future, will also be capable of processing uranium raffinate concentrate, a rich source of REE from Saskatchewan’s uranium industry.

The facility is expected to be fully operational in late 2022 with construction beginning this autumn.

SRC is Canada’s second largest research and technology organisation. With more than 290 employees, C$91 million in annual revenue and nearly 75 years of experience, SRC provides services and products to its 1,500 clients in 27 countries around the world, it says.

TOMRA’s SRC ties to open new North America ore sorting markets

TOMRA Sorting Solutions is gearing up for major sensor-based ore sorting orders from the North America mining market after signing a co-operation agreement with the Saskatchewan Research Council (SRC).

The company has won mining work across the globe over the last five or so years, moving from Africa diamond operations to a phosphate mine in Saudia Arabia – its largest installation to date (pictured) – to tin in South America and gold in Australia.

One of its more significant regional wins came in Canada, where it recently received a purchase order from Vital Metals’s Cheetah subsidiary to supply COM Tertiary X-ray Transmission (XRT) 1220/B ore sorting equipment to the Nechalacho rare earth project, in the Northwest Territories.

In announcing the order in January, Vital Metals said: “The ore sorting test work highlighted that the Nechalacho rare earth oxide (REO) project is one of the few and the first REO project to successfully use ore sorting to produce a high grade plus-35% REO concentrate without the use of reagents and water. This will substantially reduce the cost and the lead time to bring the Nechalacho REO project into production.”

Harold Cline, Area Sales Manager, Mining, TOMRA Sorting, said this win was significant as it was the first contract the company had sealed in North America following the agreement with the SRC.

SRC is now offering TOMRA clients sensor-based ore sorting process development work, testing and piloting as part of its full suite of SRC Mining and Energy services. The SRC also plans to expand these services further with the creation of the SRC Minerals Liberation Centre.

Up until recently, TOMRA had to send material from North America mining operations back to its test centre in Germany. While the TOMRA facilities in Europe are world-class, Cline said, having a location in North America could prove decisive when it comes to converting enquiries from miners to contracts.

“SRC was able to provide results to Cheetah in just four weeks,” he told IM on the side lines of the recent SME MineXchange Conference and Expo in Phoenix, Arizona.

This testing turnaround time could help TOMRA grow its mining sales in North America at a time when the region’s gold, industrial minerals, copper and lead-zinc mines are looking into sensor-based ore sorting solutions, according to Cline.

Snow Lake, DRA and Steinert investigate ore sorting at lithium project

Snow Lake Resources is the latest company to eye up ore sorting to reduce costs and increase productivity, with the exploration company asking DRA Global to come up with an effective strategy for its Thompson Brothers lithium project, in Manitoba, Canada.

Brent Hilscher of DRA will be in charge of this ore sorting project, examining the best laser or X-ray method to help separate out waste material from the spodumene pegmatite at Thompson Brothers, thereby increasing the overall grade of the final product at a low cost per tonne.

Snow Lake has collected 120 scoping samples from the company’s drill core library as part of this test work, with these samples to be sent to Steinert in Kentucky, USA, for analysis.

The company also created four bench test “bulk samples” from the existing core library, which will be used as trial material at Steinert on a full-scale ore-sorting machine once DRA Global concludes the appropriate algorithm for sorting, it said.

As part of the ore-sorting strategy, the company says it will need a higher degree of understanding of the mineral assemblage of the spodumene pegmatites at its project.

The company has, so far, collected nine core samples from the company’s core library and left them with the Saskatchewan Research Council (SRC) in Saskatoon, Canada. These samples will go through QEM-SCAN petrography analysis at SRC, providing DRA with a report on the mineral assemblage of the pegmatite.

From the nine samples, the company will select three samples for microprobe analysis of the various mineral phase.

Snow Lake said: “These studies will give the company an understanding of the mineral chemistry of the feldspar phases. This will help support the X-ray sorting works, as there may be a chemical element that the X-ray sorter can focus on to eliminate the feldspars from the spodumene pegmatite feed.”

As part of a bulk sample program for 2020, the company will also provide samples to SRC to conduct acid–base accounting testing to help assess the acid-producing and acid-neutralising potential of rocks prior to large-scale excavations at the project.

Snow Lake is expecting to publish a maiden indicated resource on the Thompson Brothers project in the near term, given that the company, its consultants and external laboratories have all the data in hand for the study.

QM Points to rehabilitate former uranium mine in Saskatchewan, Canada

QM Points Contracting has entered into an agreement with the Saskatchewan Research Council to complete the Gunnar Mine – Other Site Aspect Remediation project in the Canadian province.

This agreement represents one of the remaining major phases to reclaim the Gunnar mine site that was closed in 1964 without proper decommissioning, it said. As a result of the agreement, the site will be remediated to a level to allow reestablishment of vegetation and traditional uses of the land. It will also result in training, employment and subcontracting opportunities for local community members, as well as other benefits to the region including bursaries for students and community enhancement projects, QM said.

QM Points is a partnership between QM Environmental and Points Athabasca Contracting, with the partnership specialising in environmental contracting activities in Saskatchewan and beyond. QM Environmental is a national environmental services contractor and Points Athabasca Contracting is a Saskatchewan-based civil and construction contractor with majority local Athabasca Basin Indigenous ownership, and over 20 years of successful operations in the region.

John Scarfe, Chief Executive Officer of Points Athabasca Contracting, said: “This partnership is a very exciting step for us and for our shareholder communities in the Athabasca Basin Region. Not only does it allow us to expand and add end-to-end construction projects to our portfolio but growing this partnership also helps provide opportunities for us to do what we do best: ‘Building Capacity’ for Indigenous people.”

The former Gunnar uranium mine and mill site is located on the north shore of Lake Athabasca, some 25 km south of Uranium City, Saskatchewan. The mine was operational from 1955-1963 and officially closed in 1964 with little decommissioning.

Due to the remote and isolated location of the site, numerous buildings (both industrial and residential) and facilities were developed. According to technical standards during that time, asbestos was widely used in all the buildings.

QM Points’ work will focus on waste rock cover construction; landfill construction; and general site remediation including installation of stainless steel mine closures, gamma radiation shielding covers over the general site, management of contaminated soils and rock and site-wide debris segregation and consolidation in appropriate landfills.