Plans move forward for rare earth elements mine on Labrador coast
Search Minerals says mine could employ 80 to 150 workers
Search Minerals, a mining and exploration company, is making plans for a rare earth elements mine on the southeast coast of Labrador.
The company, based in both British Columbia and Labrador, discovered the Port Hope Simpson Rare Earth Element District, a belt in the area about 70 kilometres long and up to eight kilometres wide.
Rare earth elements are used to make such things as batteries, electronics and magnets.
Search Minerals president Greg Andrews said the company has received a preliminary economic assessment on its "Foxtrot" project, in the Fox Harbour area, to see if it's economic to move into production.
Andrews said it's all good news so far.
"With those numbers, with the low capital costs, it leads us to believe to continue working on that project," he told Labrador Morning.
"We believe that we can be financeable at a cost of $152 million. In the rare earth space, that's quite a low number for an initial capital cost compared to other projects," Andrews said.
The mine plan calls for eight years of open pit mining and six years underground.
Andrews said other prospects in the district also look promising and could fit into the economics of the planned mine.
"If that happens, we would be able to have a couple of resources that would be able to feed a processing facility and remain open pit," he said.
Andrews said the mine could employ 80 to 150 workers, and would operate 24 hours a day.
More metallurgy testing to come
The company already has $1.9 million demonstration plant underway, with financial help from both the federal and provincial governments.
That plant will help to further validate that the project can produce the results they're hoping for, according to Andrews.
He said more metallurgy testing and environmental studies are still to come, and the company is keen to keep all levels of government and the local communities informed on what it is doing.
Andrews said now that it has data from the preliminary economic assessment — they'll be looking to bring others to the table and get financing in place.
"[Search will] try to align ourselves with a strategic investor or partner that would be able to bring capital to the project, that sees the value of Search potentially being the only North American rare earth producer."