The technology is applicable in rare earths processing and other potential industrial applications, and has been developed by Dr Thomas Feldmann and Professor George Demopoulos of McGill University in Montreal, Canada.
Mkango's processing flowsheet for the Songwe Hill rare earths project in Malawi incorporates a HCL gangue leach step, producing calcium chloride in solution. The HCL will be regenerated using the calcium chloride feed stream, supplemented with additional calcium chloride, together with sulphuric acid produced from sulphur at a plant on-site. This means that the import of large quantities of liquid HCL will not be required, effectively being replaced by the import of solid sulphur and calcium chloride, therefore bringing significant potential cost and logistical benefits. The production of a gypsum by-product for sale in Malawi and elsewhere will also be investigated.
William Dawes, chief executive of Mkango, stated: “We are very pleased to be working with McGill, a leading university in the field of hydrochloric acid regeneration and rare earths processing. This technology is not only applicable for Songwe but potentially for other primary carbonatite hosted rare earths projects. We are also interested in evaluating the technology's use in other industrial applications where high strength hydrochloric acid is required.
“The option agreement is consistent with Mkango's strategy to further optimise the Songwe project, thereby providing a strong platform to secure a financial or strategic partner to accelerate exploration and development of the project.
“Mkango strives to be at the forefront of technology development in the rare earths sector and is collaborating in a number of other leading edge research programmes, including HiTech AlkCarb and SoS RARE.”