Aclara Resources (TSX:ARA), a rare earth element (REE) exploration and development mining company, is on a quest to reinvent rare earth mining as a climate-friendly industry, sustainably supplying these critical metals the world requires to achieve a low-carbon future.
Through its ionic clay asset in Chile, Aclara is testing its innovative, patented Circular Mineral Harvesting Process, a unique, sustainable extraction method developed in collaboration with the University of Toronto and the University of Concepción in Chile.
The mining industry has long-endured a negative public reputation. But recent efforts, such as the World Bank’s Climate-Smart Mining Initiative, are hoping to reshape the mining industry as a sustainable, vital partner in achieving the world’s net-zero emissions goals. The Climate-Smart Mining Initiative sets out guidelines to improve sustainability and minimize the environmental impact of mining operations.
Aclara Resources aims to be at the forefront of this movement.
Clean technologies, such as electric vehicles and wind turbines, require rare earth elements to manufacture the powerful magnets they need. However, while rare earths are technically abundant in the Earth’s crust, there are few economically viable deposits worldwide, outside of Southern China and Myanmar. Ionic clay deposits, known as ionic adsorption clay (IAC), have three special characteristics, (1) contain high value of scarce heavy rare earths (HREE), (2) generate no radioactivity, and (3) have a simple metallurgy allowing for low costs and capital expenditures.
IAC are major contributors to the world’s total HREE output. For years, the only significant IAC deposits outside of China has been Ionic Rare Earth’s (ASX:IXR) Makuutu project in Uganda, and Sierra Verde in Brazol. Fortunately, that’s about to change
Aclara Resources’ Penco Module, the company’s flagship asset in Chile, contains ionic clays rich in both heavy rare earths and light rare earths. The project will be a testing ground for its Circular Mineral Harvesting Process for further optimization for future projects. This advanced extraction process does not use explosives, crushing or milling, nor produces liquid residues.
The extraction process advances Aclara’s mission of becoming a leader in climate-smart mining practices. The Circular Mineral Harvesting Process produces no tailings dam, prioritizes revegetation, recirculates up to 95 percent of water used and 99 percent of the main reagent (a common fertilizer that recovers the rare earths from the clays). This transformative new process led to the company earning the 2022 Sustainability Initiative of the Year award
In addition to its new extraction process, Aclara has proposed and designed steps to achieve sustainability and ESG excellence throughout the Penco Module. These steps include preserving a biological corridor, establishing a safety buffer to protect flora and fauna, reforestation of affected areas with native species, and additional voluntary environmental protection commitment. The company recently voluntarily withdrew the Environmental Impact Assessment application that had been prepared by the previous owners of the project, to allow the company to reduce its environmental impact even further. Aclara is aiming to file a new Environmental Impact Assessment in Q2 2023.
In parallel to the Penco Module development, Aclara owns a large concessions land package of 441,985 hectares to allow organic growth. The company is exploring to the south and north of the Penco Module (situated in only 600 hectares) to potentially incorporate additional modules in the medium term. An exploration plan has already been designed for the next 3 years and a drilling campaign is already underway.
Aclara Resources’ management team has diverse expertise throughout the natural resources sector. Experience includes project financing, rare earth project development, corporate management and international law. The range of experience builds confidence in the team’s ability to lead the company towards its goals.
- Aclara Resources is a Heavy Rare Earths company developing its ionic clays deposit in Chile.
- The company’s unique, patented Circular Mineral Harvesting is a closed-circuit process to extract Rare Earth Elements from ionic clays that recirculates 95 percent of the water used and 99 percent of the main reagent, eliminating the need for a tailings dam and conditioning the spent clays for future revegetation with native forests.
- Aclara was awarded the 2022 Sustainability of the Year award for its innovative Circular Mineral Harvesting Process.
- Aclara voluntarily withdrew its Environmental Impact Assessment application. The original EIA application was being submitted by the project’s previous owners, and it did not fully align with Aclara’s standards. The new submission, aimed for Q2 2023, will allow the company to improve its environmental impact before reapplying.
- Aclara owns a large concessions land package of 441,985hectares that ,allows organic growth (Penco Module situated in only 600 hectares). Exploration plan to incorporate additional modules is already under way.
- An experienced management team leads the project towards becoming a pivotal turning point in environmentally sustainable rare earth mining.
- With $73 million in cash, Aclara’s main shareholder is leading precious metal producer Hochschild Group, with a 57 percent stake in the company.
The Penco Module
A process developed by Aclara in collaboration with University of Toronto & University of Concepción
Aclara’s flagship asset covers 441,985 hectares of land in the Maule, Ñuble, Biobío and Araucanía regions of Chile. The project is fully funded to the construction decision and is a spin-off from Hochschild Mining’s REE project. Hochschild Group retains a 57 percent interest in Aclara, Environmental sustainability is paramount to the operation's goals, and the asset is close to a trained workforce and established infrastructure.
- Environmental Sustainability Prioritized Throughout: The company’s transformative Circular Mineral Harvesting Process allows for unprecedented sustainability. Aclara will not use explosives, crushing or milling to harvest rare earths. Additionally, there is no tailings dam, 95% of water usedwill be recycled, and there is no radioactivity in the end-product.
- Recent Exploration Identifies New Area: Positive results from a recent exploratory drilling campaign have identified a new area, Alexandra Poniente, which is now incorporated into the project and has expanded the mineral resource of the project. More than 72 drill holes confirmed the underlying mineralization's continuity
- Extensive Existing Infrastructure: The asset is ideally located 6 kilometers from a port, 8 kilometers from an airport and 15 kilometers from the city of Concepción. Additionally, the Penco Module is next to a first-class motorway and has access to trained workers, water and energy.
- (repeated) In November, Aclara announced improved recoveries and filing of new patents on innovative technology. The company completed a laboratory testing phase successfully, optimizing its metallurgical process and ensuring that liquid residues are not generated. The process flowsheet has two patents in place that protect its innovation. The first has been granted, while the second one is in process.
- The company announced an expanded resource on December 1st, adding +28% tonnes of total resources (33% in M&I) link
Ramon Barua - CEO and Director
Ramon Barua has more than 10 years of experience as CFO of Hochschild Mining. He was previously CEO of Fosfatos del Pacifico S.A., general manager of Hochschild’s Mexican operations, and deputy CEO and CFO of Cementos Pacasmayo.
Rodrigo Ceballos - President & General Manager
Rodrigo Ceballos has more than 20 years of experience working in molybdenum, rhenium and rare earths markets at companies including Molibdenos y Metales S.A (Molymet) and Mathiesen Corporation. He was a member of the Minor Metals and Molybdenum Committees of the London Metals Exchange.
Francois Motte - CFO
Francois Motte has more than 10 years of experience in various financial positions, including serving in corporate finance, financial planning, management and control, business development and investor relations at Hochschild Mining.
Barry Murphy - COO
Barry Murphy is an experienced mining industry veteran with more than 30 years of experience in the industry. Prior senior positions included roles at Torex Gold Resources, Inc., Yamana Gold Inc. and Anglo American. Additionally, he has led technical services and project development teams in Chile, Peru, Argentina, Mexico and South Africa.
Diego Brieba - General Counsel
Diego Brieba has more than 20 years of experience in the mining sector. His prior positions included working at Codelco as senior corporate counsel, head of the mining practice group at Prieto & Cía. Abogados in Chile and foreign legal consultant at McMillan Binch Mendelsohn LLP in Canada.
Dr. Gisele Azimi- Technical Advisor
Dr. Azimi is an Associate Professor and Canada Research Chair joint-appointed between the Departments of Chemical Engineering & Applied Chemistry and Materials Science & Engineering at the University of Toronto. She is an expert in the fields of electrochemistry, thermodynamics, hydrometallurgy, supercritical fluids and materials design. She has published several journal and refereed conference publications and she continues to present her research in national and international conferences. She is also a co-inventor in a number of patent applications and one awarded patent.
Dr. Azimi received her Ph.D. from the University of Toronto and she completed her first and second postdoctoral appointments at MIT.