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NGM to pursue critical metals recovery at Phoenix Mine

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Phoenix Mine

The Phoenix Mine phase 2 copper leach pad as shown in a 2019 file photo.

RENO—The recovery of critical metals from mine solutions at Nevada Gold Mine’s Phoenix Mine near Battle Mountain may be possible in the future, as the company signed an agreement with Scandium International Mining Corp. to study the feasibility of the project.

Scandium International Mining Corp. and NGM signed a letter of intent to initiate a joint technical and economic feasibility program to confirm the economic and technical viability of a critical metals recovery at mine site, NGM announced June 28.

“We are excited to begin working with our partner, Scandium International Mining Corp., on finding ways to extract critically important minerals for the future of the United States, furthering the country’s ambitions to become a leader in the green economy,” said NGM Managing Executive Director Greg Walker. “In addition, this partnership aligns with our vision to protect Nevada’s environment not only for today, but for future generations.”

The Phoenix Mine is a gold-copper producer owned and operated by NGM through a joint venture between Barrick Gold Corp. with 61.5% ownership and Newmont Corp. with 38.5%. The mine produces a copper/gold concentrate, copper cathode and gold dore.

The letter of intent defines a detailed $2.7 million program that includes bench test work, pilot plant testing, and feasibility study design work. The program is expected to take 15 months to complete.

With program completion, the partners intend to make an investment decision on construction and operation of a plant facility to recover critical metals from mine solutions.

The letter of intent also outlines key parameters of a partnership, including formation of a joint venture to hold the plant facility, and a 50:50 ownership in the recovery circuit asset.

The project is envisioned as an ion-exchange recovery system, capturing critical metals that are recirculating in heap leach copper solutions at Phoenix, specifically targeting nickel, cobalt, scandium, zinc, and potentially other metals that prove to be economically recoverable, NGM stated in a press release.

The project has the potential to produce material quantities of strategically important metals, tailored to today’s tech-driven products, and can do so from a distributed global copper production base. The environmental impact from this production process is minimal because no new mines are required.

From a copper industry standpoint, this CMR process can effectively increase mine valuations, can effectively extend mine/reserve life at current production rates, and will result in cleaner tailings, potentially lower ongoing environmental management costs, and lower final reclamation expense.

“Quality partners are an essential ingredient in shared projects. That noted, we are genuinely pleased to be working with NGM and the Phoenix Mine team, to demonstrate the technology and economic viability of a CMR project in the copper business,” said George Putnam, CEO of Scandium International Mining Corp. “We look forward to achieving a profitable, reliable, repeatable success with this project, and one that focusses directly on the priority of North American sourcing of critical metals tailored for technology-driven applications in transportation and communications.”

Scandium International Mining Corp. is focused on developing its Nyngan Scandium Project in Australia, into the world’s first scandium-only producing mine. The company is also pursuing critical metals recovery opportunities with various copper industry groups, where it proposes to use ion exchange technology to extract unrecovered critical metals from existing mine process streams. This program represents a fast-track concept to make battery-grade nickel and cobalt products, scandium master alloy product, and other critical metals, from North American sources. The company is similarly pursuing high-purity alumina opportunities, both in conjunction with critical metals recovery where possible, and also independently as a stand-alone project.

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