The company, which is roughly 20 percent owned by mining magnate Robert Friedland, is in the process of purchasing Syerston from Ivanhoe Mines.
The scandium market is generally pretty quiet. Little of the metal is produced — 2014 output is expected to total about 15 tonnes — and there is no formal marketplace.
This week, however, Clean TeQ Holdings (ASX:CLQ) brought a little excitement to the space. The company, which describes itself as a global leader in water treatment, metals recovery and air purification technology, announced on Monday that an assessment of drilling completed this past summer at the Australia-based Syerston project “has revealed exceptional scandium grades in a number of drill holes.”
Fourteen shallow vertical reverse-circulation holes were completed as part of the program, with the best intersections including:
- Hole SRC1272 — 20 meters at 606 ppm (6 to 26 meters), including: 4 meters at 921 ppm scandium
- Hole SRC1275 — 16 meters at 541 ppm (6 to 22 meters), including: 4 meters at 922 ppm scandium
- Hole SRC1276 — 16 meters at 605 ppm (2 to 18 meters), including: 4 meters at 928 ppm scandium (and/or 2 meters at 1,070 ppm scandium)
Commenting on the results, John Carr, head of Clean TeQ’s metals division, said, “[t]he drill results confirm that the Syerston project is a rare geological anomaly, hosting some of the highest naturally occurring grades of scandium mineralisation in the world.”
At first glance, Clean TeQ seems to be focused on a disparate array of fields — while water treatment and air purification certainly have similarities, metals recovery doesn’t appear to fit.
However, a quick look at the company’s website reveals exactly what the connection is: the company’s proprietary continuous ion exchange processes. While they can be used to purify air and treat water, Clean TeQ states that they can also be used to recover strategic metals — like scandium — “from ores and tailings where the conventional routes are economically marginal or pose an environmental burden that is not sustainable.”
The idea is to minimize waste and power use while maximizing extraction and recovery of the target metal — in other words, to create a greener way of mining strategic metals.
The Friedland connection
Those still skeptical of the Clean TeQ might be interested to learn that mining magnate Robert Friedland is backing the company. As CEO.ca states in a recent article, Friedland owns roughly 20 percent of Clean TeQ, and the company is in the process of purchasing Syerston from Ivanhoe Mines for about $1 million in stock.
Scandium in general also has some strong backers. Analyst John Kaiser, for one, believes that once a steady stream of supply of the metal is established, demand for it will open up as well. His top stock pick at the moment is Scandium International Mining (TSX:SCY), formerly known as EMC Metals, according to CEO.ca.
In any case, it will be interesting to see how Clean TeQ’s work progresses. The acquisition of Syerston remains subject to a number of conditions, and while it progresses the company will be looking to combine the results of the recent drill program with the “extensive” historic drill data available. The plan is to establish a maiden scandium resource early in 2015.
Securities Disclosure: I, Charlotte McLeod, hold no direct investment interest in any company mentioned in this article.