The Kipawa property, Matamec’s flagship project, is located 50 km east of the town of Témiscamingue in Québec. The property consists of one block containing 21 mining claims, totaling more than 1,100 hectares. The Kipawa deposit is being developed by the Kipawa Rare Earths JV, which is 72% owned by Matamec and 28% by Ressources Québec (acting as the agent of the Government of Québec); Toyota Tsusho Corp. (Nagoya, Japan) holds a 10% royalty on net profit in the deposit.
The Kipawa deposit is wholly contained within the main syenite portion of the Kipawa Alkaline complex. Rare earth-yttrium-zirconium mineralization at the Kipawa deposit is contained in medium sized grains of silicate minerals, occurring as eudialyte and mosandrite and containing 90% of the total rare earth elements. The deposit features light and heavy rare earths, and is enriched in heavies. The total reserves now stand at 10.2Mt at 0.44% TREO proven and 9.6Mt at 0.38% TREO probable. (Roche, Genivar, SGS and Golder – October 2013).
The Kipawa deposit features many advantages that make it one of the more attractive rare earths projects in North America, such as:
- Enriched in heavy rare earths which are more valuable
- Simple mineralization, which simplifies the extraction process
- Straightforward metallurgical process, allowing for the extraction of rare earths at low cost
- Location and Ease of Access (near city, roads, railroad, electricity network, suppliers)
- Smaller production makes it easier to adapt to market needs
- Solid, experienced management team (Board members and development team)
- Possibilities for marketing by-products
The project has been in development since 2007, and out of 800 projects around the world that Toyota (an end user) researched in 2012, it was the only one they chose to invest in. Feasibility and environmental baseline studies were completed in 2013.
For more details about the project, click to watch the video below:
Since the creation of the Kipawa Rare Earths JV in January 2015, most of the work related to the Kipawa deposit has focused on improving the project’s efficiency. Matamec is pursuing this objective on numerous fronts, working with several groups of researchers in their different fields of expertise (see figure below). Research is being done to broaden the geological and mineralogical knowledge and characteristics of the Kipawa deposit, and to improve the accuracy of the modelling and estimation of the rare earth resources at Kipawa, as well as to evaluate the suitability of selective mining for the project.
In terms of metallurgy, testwork is underway to explore the possibility of utilizing flotation and ore sorting in the beneficiation process. New and innovative metallurgical processes are being reviewed and tested, particularly for increasing rare earth recoveries, and for rejecting impurities. A new research project focusing on the separation of rare earth elements will begin shortly as well.
Another important objective for the company is to minimize the project’s environmental footprint. With this in mind, researchers are evaluating possible ways to generate the most stable form of tailings from Kipawa. In addition, we are investigating the production of potential by-products generated during the various metallurgical processes.
Finally, in parallel with the planning of the second mini-pilot plant, a new revision of the Demonstration Pilot Plant is being designed for Kipawa, incorporating all the positive results obtained from the aforementioned innovative R&D.