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E-TECH Resources, A Specialist of Rare Earth Element Talks

05/06/2022 08:26

photoE-Tech Resources INC. is a Canada-based resource company which explores and develops rare earth elements. The company is currently engaging in a project called Eureka in Namibia, located in one of Africa’s top mining jurisdictions. Early metallurgical testing conducted to date shows that the project has the potential to be one of the simplest for processing globally.

 

E-Tech Resources puts value in sustainability and responsibility, believing in a future of responsibly resourced and generated electric power. It wishes to contribute to supply the key ingredients for making electric motors that will bring a sustainable energy future.

 

photoNeodymium (Nd) that the company handles is a major contributor for decarbonating transports and generating renewable power. The key usage of Neodymium (Nd) is for producing the strongest mass-produced permanent magnets (PMs) with iron (Fe) and boron (B) in alloy. Since the discovery of NdPr in NdFeB in 1983, many electronic devices such as mobile phones or microphones have miniaturized. NdFeB magnets have been further developed since and since 2010 they integrate in large wind turbine generators, or EVs.

 

A NdFeB permanent magnet contains about 30% Neodymium. Here are some examples; an average EV with a PM motor contains 2Kg of NdFeb permanent magnets and an average permanent magnet for wind turbines has 28.5% of neodymium, 4.4% of dysprosium, 1% of boron and 66% of iron.

 

photoMIRU approached E-Tech Resources for an interview and Mr. Elbert Loois, CEO of the company kindly agreed to speak to us on topics ranging from its project to its strategy in the era of the SDGs. Mr. Elbert Loois has more than 20 years of experience in the management and consulting for business development, M&A, and sustainable supply strategy within the raw materials, automotive and clean technology industries.

 

 

1: Could you tell us about your Eureka Project in Namibia?


Simple mineralogy

 

The Eureka Project is characterized by simple mineralogy, with high-grade total rare earths oxide (TREO) predominately hosted in the mineral monazite. The coarse-grained monazite is hosted in numerous broad carbonatitic dyke swarms that intruded pre-existing rocks from a deep magma source, and which today are exposed to the surface.

 

In more technical terms, the in-situ dyke grades range from 1-16% TREO, contributing to a current NI43-101 compliant Mineral Resource Estimate (MRE) at an average 4.8% TREO, as quoted in the SRK Consulting Technical Report, dated September 2021. The report also suggests immediate exploration potential to increase the resource by an additional 1.5 Mt.

 

 

photoEasy processability

 

Eureka’s inherent mineralogical characteristics make it amenable to low-cost beneficiation methods by off-the-shelf gravity separation equipment. Pure monazite concentrate could therefore be beneficiated by low-cost physical methods alone, as shown in the SGS study.

 

Based on early bench scale test work, Eureka has yielded a 65%+ recovery of monazite to concentrate in the first pass, using a gravity process alone, with the concentrate level running at around 60% TREO, of which 16% is NdPr oxide. There are no hazardous chemicals or complicated beneficiation plants required. Further processing, or ‘cracking’, of low-Th monazite concentrates such as this are well established.

 

 

Simple operations and accessibility

 

Simple operations and logistics management are enhanced by an experienced board and management structure situated in-country with access to off-take partners. Namibia is a top tier country for mining and is one of Africa’s most stable countries. Eureka has a flat topography with easy access to water and power and a 1.5-hour drive to the Walvis Bay container port – Namibia’s largest commercial port, which recently completed a $350m expansion in 2019. Mineral concentrates with low radioactive contents that meet international requirements are shipped safely from this port.
 

 

 

2: Could you tell us about your business strategy in the era of the SDGs?

 

E-Tech Resources is aligned with the United Nations Sustainability Development Goals and their ESG strategy and action plan are being executed accordingly.
E-Tech Resources is committed to the highest environmental, social, and corporate governance standards. ASEC Namibia has conducted an environmental impact assessment, and a state approved environmental clearance certificate was obtained.

 

Corporate codes, policies, charts, and guidelines are strictly followed, and E-Tech Resources adheres to United Nations Sustainable Development Goals and Project Readiness Standards (by project due diligence). E-Tech Resources works with the global Rare Earth Association (REIA) as a member of the ESG Board and with the Critical Minerals Association (CMA), chairing their International Mining Committee. Life Cycle Analysis (LCA) project, one of the best ways to quantify impacts from proposed development and mining operations, will be supported.

 

E-Tech Resources has also installed its own Sustainability Advisory Board. Ongoing environmental and social impact assessment is being performed. Baseline environmental monitoring equipment has been installed at the Eureka site to monitor changes in the local environment ahead of the ramp-up of exploration works.

 

 

3: Under the current global climate (COVID-19, Russia’s invasion in Ukraine, drastic increase of energy price), has it been any specific impact to your business operation?

 

The war in the Ukrainian has made clear how dependent Europe and the world in general still are on conventional energy resources such as gas and coal. Further, the Ukraine and Europe are too remote from our Namibian exploration site to have measurable operational impact, but a slight increase in fuel prices is present here as well.
 

Renewable energies such as wind power and e-motors, driven by rare earth permanent magnets, offer a clean and responsible way to diversify this supply risk. By investing in projects such as E-Tech's Eureka rare earths project in Namabia, alternative value chains that support the Green Energy Revolution can be supported and developed more rapidly.

 

 

4: Would you be interested in partnering with a Japanese company/any message to your Japanese counterparts?


E-Tech would welcome to work together with Japanese partners at a strategic approach to develop sustainable rare earths supply options. Nowadays, global industries for electrification and motorization mainly rely on vertically integrated Chinese supply, geopolitics and pricing of rare earths. This dependency needs to be diversified. But the rare earths landscape outside of China is rather complex in terms of the levels of value creation, compared to many other materials, and a concerted approach of its industrial stakeholders is thus required.

 

Building a meaningful consortium of mineral-to-magnet rare earths supply chain partners will be required, with partners who are willing to jointly develop the needed alternative production capacities, whilst satisfying product specifications and optimal time to market expectations as well as key investment criteria.

 

We are already involved in discussions with Japanese companies and institutions on this matter. We are perceiving a mutual interest and natural synergy in striving for accessible, responsible and clean power production. Strategic, exploration-oriented organizations such as the JOGMEC (Japan Oil, Gas and Metals National Corporation) are playing a big role in enabling such new opportunities.

 

 

(Translated by Y.SCHANZ, the article first appeared in Japanese on MIRU.com)

 

 

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