This past fall, the Saskatchewan Research Council (SRC) opened the Mineral Processing Pilot Plant to enhance the Canadian mining industry’s capabilities in Western Canada and beyond. The plant, located in Saskatoon, is similar to other SRC facilities that test diamond processing and pipe flow slurry transport. This latest site supports the development and demonstration of methods for processing a wide range of mineral ores, including potash, uranium, gold, base metals, coal and oil shale. It is also one of the few places in the country to focus on rare earths, highly prized commodities that Canada expects to begin producing in significant amounts within a few years.

An atmospheric leaching circuit, where minerals are extracted from ore samples, is one of the many technologies now available to Canadian­ companies thanks to the Saskatchewan Research Council. Photo credit: SRC

Here, companies can begin the task of identifying processing options to extract desired minerals. Equipment such as flotation cells, grinding and leaching circuits, mixers and other equipment are readily available, as is access to on-site laboratories and staff. Moreover, the SRC is offering access to its sophisticated microscope service, QEMSCAN, or Quantitative Evaluation of Minerals by SCANning electron microscopy, which characterizes the bulk mineralogy and liberation characteristics of various types of ore samples. The pilot plant has a throughput capacity of about two tonnes per day, or some 400-500 tonnes per year for multiple clients and projects.

The $2.2 million pilot plant received funding from the Canada-Saskatchewan Western Economic Partnership Agreement and the SRC, an organization that is one of Canada’s leading providers of applied research, development and demonstration (RD&D), and technology commercialization.