INDUSTRY BULLETIN: COM2014 REE Symposium Demonstrates Canada's Resources
The Conference of Metallurgists’ (“COM”) 2014 Rare Earth Symposium (Sept 29 to Oct 1) proved to be another great success. Over the three-day Symposium, 150 delegates, approximately 25% of the overall COM registrations, heard 44 papers from nine countries.
The Symposium clearly demonstrated Canada’s technical competency, capacity and possibilities for participating in global rare earth elements (“REE”) supply chains. This year’s program presented peer-edited papers covering topics across the REE supply chain: from mineralogy through beneficiation, hydrometallurgy and separation, along with other related topics such as innovation, recycling, radio-isotope management and regulations. The Symposium engaged respected speakers from industry and academia, and received global participation from both seasoned veterans and newcomers in the science, engineering and business fields.
This year’s Rare Earth Symposium Organizing Committee, under the leadership of Niels Verbaan of SGS Canada, included Avalon Rare Metals’ Market Development and Energy Advisor Ian London, who chaired both the inaugural and second Symposia at COM12 (Niagara Falls) and COM13 (Montreal).
Constantine Karayannopoulos, Chairman of Molycorp delivered the keynote address at the opening session, titled Evolution of Rare Earth Material Science, Production and Resource Development: The Mountain Pass Paradigm. Mr. Karayannopoulos touched on the recent turmoil that the emerging rare earth industry has been faced with, including financing challenges and changing market demands. He shared his views that going forward, the industry needs to recognize that:
- environmentally progressive production is the new paradigm;
- the success of any new producers will be dependent on addressing customer needs and not simply the quality of individual deposits;
- there will be an increasing emphasis on vertical integration; and
- demand growth will be primarily enabled by vehicle fuel efficiency and emission control regulations, required under increasingly stringent energy efficiency policies in Japan, Korea, the European Union and China.
Professor Chu Hua Yan, REE scientist, Vice Provost of Graduate Education at Peking University and member of the Chinese Academy of Science, delivered the second keynote address, titled Rare Earth Separation: More Green and Efficient. Professor Yan noted that “the environmental dimensions of rare earth separation and utilization present unique challenges to both academic and industrial communities.” He then walked the delegates though the development and application of the theory of “countercurrent extraction”, a novel solvent extraction process for separating heavy rare earths.
Ian London, in his capacity as Chair of the Canadian Rare Earth Element Network (“CREEN”), delivered the third keynote address to open the second day of the Symposium. Mr. London outlined the significant advances and growing membership of CREEN; the priority pre-competitive projects currently identified by Canadian technical leaders; and the international invitations CREEN has received, including EU-US-Japan Trilateral Meeting on Critical Materials, NATO’s Critical Metals and Electric Power Systems panel and the European Rare Earth Competency Network in making policy recommendations to the European Commission.
Plans are currently underway to convene two REE paper sessions at the Canadian Institute of Mining, Metallurgy and Petroleum 2015 Annual Convention (Montreal, May 10 to13, 2015), focusing on REE mineralogy and mining. As well, the International Mineral Processing Congress (“IMPC”) will see a major REE Processing Symposium hosted at IMPC 2016 in Quebec City (Sept 11 to 15, 2016).
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ABOUT AVALON RARE METALS INC.
Avalon Rare Metals Inc. (TSX & NYSE MKT: AVL) is a mineral development company focused on rare metal deposits in Canada, with three advanced stage projects. Its 100%-owned Nechalacho Deposit, Thor Lake, NWT is exceptional in its large size and enrichment in the scarce 'heavy' rare earth elements, key to enabling advances in clean technology and other growing high-tech applications. Avalon is also advancing its Separation Rapids Lithium Minerals Project, Kenora, ON and its East Kemptville Tin-Indium Project, Yarmouth, NS. Social responsibility and environmental stewardship are corporate cornerstones.