Niobium and tantalum

Niobium and Tantalum

ANZAPLAN is well equipped to develop flowsheet and process design following different processing routes for niobium and tantalum bearing minerals including columbite and tantalite (coltan). Evaluation of processing routes for the conversion of niobium and tantalum bearing minerals to high purity oxides can be performed at various scales. Specific processing unit operations include comminution, sensor-based sorting, flotation, dry or wet magnetic separation, leaching, solvent extraction (SX), precipitation and crystallization.

Services

Main analytical services for niobium and tantalum include:

  • Identification of trace elements by inductively coupled plasma spectroscopy (ICP) using matrix adjusted calibration 
  • Identification of ionic species by ion chromatography (IC)
  • Identification of main elements by X-ray fluorescence (XRF) 
  • Identification and quantification (Rietveld refinement) of niobium and tantalum mineral phases by X-ray diffraction (XRD)
  • Particle size distribution (PSD)
  • Mineral liberation analysis (MLA)
  • Determination of specific surface area (BET)
  • Optical analysis by scanning electron microscopy (SEM)

Physical processing will include the development of a flowsheet targeting the concentration of niobium and tantalum bearing minerals.

Main physical processing steps applied:

  • Crushing, grinding and classification of ROM
  • Sensor based sorting (SBS)
  • Heavy liquid separation (HLS)
  • Attrition scrubbing and desliming
  • Magnetic separation 
  • Flotation

Hydrometallurgical processing will include the development of a flowsheet targeting niobium oxide and tantalum oxide chemical products.

Main hydrometallurgical processing steps applied:

  • Leaching
  • Solvent extraction (SX)
  • Purification (e.g. ion exchange)
  • Precipitation
  • Crystallization

Advanced processing services include:

  • Flowsheet optimization 
  • Locked cycle tests (LCT)
  • Variability testing

Physical processing will include the concentration of niobium and tantalum bearing minerals at pilot scale.

Main physical processing steps applied:

  • Crushing, grinding and classification of ROM
  • Autogenous grinding
  • Sensor based sorting (SBS)
  • Dense media separation (DMS)
  • Attrition scrubbing and desliming
  • Magnetic separation 
  • Flotation

Hydrometallurgical processing will include the production of niobium oxide and tantalum oxide chemical products at pilot scale.

Main hydrometallurgical processing steps applied:

  • Leaching
  • Solvent extraction (SX)
  • Purification
  • Precipitation
  • Calcination

Engineering services typically include:

  • Process design and flowsheet development
  • Confirmation of flowsheet through pilot plant testing program
  • Capital and operating cost estimates (CAPEX/OPEX)
  • Economic assessments including potential by-product scenarios.
  • Scoping, pre-feasibility and feasibility studies
  • Process plant revamping and plant audits
  • Optimization and trade-off studies 
  • Waste management

The ANZAPLAN team offers independent review and sign-off of technical studies including:

  • Preliminary economic assessment, pre-feasability and feasibility studies
  • Design verification at various scale
  • Pilot Plant review
  • Troubleshooting
  • Geometallurgical review
  • Periodic operation monitoring
  • Project management

ANZAPLAN and Micon International has formed a joint venture M.Plan International to provide consulting and testwork services for seamless development in specialty mineral and metal projects from grassroots exploration through to feasibility studies:

  • Exploration program advice 
  • Site visits
  • Mineral resource/reserve estimation
  • Verification of drilling and QA/QC protocols
  • Audit and review
  • Mine planning
  • Preparation of technical report based on international codes e.g. JORC, NI 43-101
  • Project valuation and studies (PEA, PFS and FS Level)
  • Independent Engineer