Critical rare earth elements

Focus Graphite’s Kwyjibo, Quebec, rare earth elements (REE) and copper advanced exploration project is being developed in partnership with SOQUEM, the Quebec government’s commercial mining corporation.

Kwijibo was designated by the Quebec government in 2010 as a priority economic development target. It sits in one of the province’s historically rich iron ore, copper and gold mineralized zones.

The property, discovered in 1993 during a follow-up of regional geochemical lake sediment anomalies, totals 118 mining titles and covers 6,278 hectares. It is located about 10 kilometres north of Lac Manitou and 125 km northeast of the port city of Sept-Îles, in the Côte-Nord administrative district of northeastern Quebec.

Under the terms of the Aug. 3, 2010, agreement with SOQUEM, Focus Graphite could earn a 50 percent interest in the Kwyjibo property by spending up to $3 million in exploration work over a five-year period. Focus reached that milestone in 2012, thus earning its 50 percent interest.

On October 02, 2017 Focus Graphite Inc. and SOQUEM Inc. announced they had engaged Met-Chem of Montréal, a division of DRA Americas Inc., to undertake a Preliminary Economic Assessment  (PEA) of their Kwyjibo Polymetallic-Rare Earth Elements project.

Focus CEO Gary Economo said the decision to undertake the PEA study coincided with a number of encouraging market factors, chief among them, a significant rise in REE market prices during the first half of 2017 for neodymium and praseodymium.

He said the PEA Study undertaking with Met-Chem/DRA, when completed, and, if positive, could lead to further investigation of the Kwyjibo Project’s feasibility as a potentially new North American rare earths source.

The PEA will be based on promising hydrometallurgical test results from lab-scale work being conducted at Hazen Research Inc. of Golden, Colorado. On November 21, 2016, Focus and SOQUEM announced results from the 2014-2015 chemical leaching test work program conducted on two composite drill core samples from the Magnetite and Lower Breccia zones of the Josette horizon.

The tests and subsequent purification steps are supervised by Mr. Eric Larochelle, P. Eng., a metallurgical consultant part of Met-Chem/DRA’s team of experts.

Exploration work, including core drilling, carried out by Focus and SOQUEM on the property in 2011 and 2012 showed the dominant REE minerals are neodymium (Nd) and yttrium (Y) (Note: Strictly not a REE, yttrium is included in the suite of REE as its chemical properties and uses resemble those of heavy rare earths). Both of these minerals are included in the list of critical rare earth elements sought by industry as defined by the U.S. Geological Survey.

On March, 26, 2013, Focus and SOQUEM reported results of the late summer 2012 core drilling program at Kwyjibo (31 holes for a total of 4,207 metres). Results from analysis of 1,531 samples confirmed the grades, thicknesses and continuity of the Fe-REE-Cu mineralization in the northeastern part of the Josette Horizon over a total strike length of 600 metres and to a depth of 175 metres.

The new drill results continue to demonstrate the high content of critical rare earth elements, in particular Nd and Y, in the Josette mineralization. The Josette horizon is one of more than 10 polymetallic showings found in 1993 over a strike length of four kilometres.

Metallurgical testing work continues on the Kwyjibo property, with the aim of producing concentrates for critical rare earths, copper and iron.