Medallion Resources (TSX-V: MDL)(OTC: MLLOF) CEO Mark Saxon on Successful Rare Earth Separation Technology & Life Cycle Assessment Status
Gerardo Del Real: This is Gerardo Del Real with Resource Stock Digest. Joining me today is the President and CEO of Medallion Resources, Mr. Mark Saxon. Mark, how are you today?
Mark Saxon: Gerardo, not too bad. Great to talk to you. As we mentioned in the preamble there, back in lockdown life in Australia, where we're getting on with things all the same and making great progress, so that's the important thing.
Gerardo Del Real: Well, I'm glad to hear you're well. I'm glad to hear that you're safe. I know that COVID has been an obviously global pandemic that has affected many, many, many personally health wise, but it's also obviously affected a lot of business endeavors. And so let's get to the news from this morning. Let me read the headline because it was actually pretty impressive in regards to the research partnership that you announced a few months back and then getting results this quickly from that partnership. So the headline reads: Medallion Updates on Success of Rare Earth Element Separation Technology and Status of Techno-Economic and Life Cycle Assessments. So the status of the techno-economic and life cycle assessments, the way that I understand it, is the part that's seen a bit of a delay, unfortunately, due to COVID correct?
Mark Saxon: It has and it is what it is. It's all independent studies and in the hands of independent engineering and advisors. And so while we push all we can and we've been asking for results for quite a while, we really can't influence that timeline very much. But we now have the engineering document in our hands. That's gone to a financial group to do the modeling. And so we're talking very short timelines now and we'll be seeing it very soon anyway.
Gerardo Del Real: Excellent. And complete polar opposite is the news on the research and development front, right? Typically, we get this kind of very slow moving parts that take a while to come together and take a while to manifest. And that's been the complete opposite in regards to the partnership and the exclusive licensing of the LAD chromatography. I would love for you to provide some context because it's a mouthful and there's a lot to get into, a lot of details that I think are really, really important in this release.
Mark Saxon: Yeah, absolutely. And I can talk for a very long time on this and I'll start to once we get the key points out at the headlines here. As you said, we haven't been standing still. We've been working on this for a little while, and it really is nice to see some technology that really exceeds all of your expectations really from the start. And normally when junior companies, they put out a press release and they start to do work and then they've got to find a lab and they've got to find people and find some samples and things, but the great beauty of what we're doing at Purdue University with Linda Wang and certainly I'd like to point out, it's her great work that's really the leadership here, that she has the technology in place. She has the laboratory in place. She has the chemicals, she has the equipment. She's got some staff there working for her.
So literally we signed the contract with Linda only two months ago. And immediately we provided her with what we call a pregnant leach solution. So that's the material that comes. We use the process that Medallion has been developing with mineral sand monazite. We dissolve it. We take out the rare earths and then that liquid goes across to Linda's laboratory.
There was no pretreatment, there was no dilution. There was no precipitation. It went straight into her equipment and her machinery and out came high-purity neodymium and high-purity praseodymium. So that really is an exceptionally fast turnaround on that technology. And it's not because we're doing a great job it's because of all the history that Linda has had in this field, and she knows how to solve the problems and she has the equipment and the people to solve the problems. So we've really jumped up many steps and to say we were blown away was absolutely an understatement in this regard.
Gerardo Del Real: A couple of things stand out to me first, the two rare earth elements that you cited are important because these are magnetic, rare earth elements. Correct?
Mark Saxon: Exactly. So when we look at the mixture of metals that come out of monazite, the metals being the rare earth elements, then we target specifically the neodymium, praseodymium, dysprosium and terbium. And so those four elements, the magnet metal ones, and those four elements make up about, let's say they make up 30% by volume, but they make up 90% by value.
So the technique that we're developing with Linda and the LAD chromatography, we're able to just extract it from a solution, just those four elements. So we're not caring about all of the rare earth elements. There's a whole lot of others that have very low value or very small markets. It's those four elements that we literally pull directly from solution, in a market ready form. So, that's the real beauty. So when you think normally about rare earth elements, people talk about solvent extraction. And solvent extraction requires progressive group separation where you separate five from five or four from three, and then three from two and two from one. This is quite different. We've turned that around and we directly take the metals we want. And that's a very, very optimistic view on, on the OPEX that we'll be requiring with this technique.
Gerardo Del Real: The other thing that really stood out to me, Mark, is the fact that the research here is being done at Purdue University. The monazite was sourced from an operational mineral sand mine in the Eastern US. This seems like a domestic solution to a very real domestic and global problem, right?
Mark Saxon: Yeah, for sure. And really, I guess what Medallion has been focused on from the start is what we're calling transferable technologies. So we've developed our Medallion monazite process, which is the one that takes the mineral sand monazite and breaks it down in sort of a safe and sustainable way. And we were looking to pair it with something that we're allowed to go from solution to solution, I guess, go straight through. And that creates an efficiency that very few methods can match. So we've taken mineral sand monazite from the US, we've done a process within North America and extracted the rare earth metals in North America into a market ready form. And that's a pretty rare thing. We can now pick up that technology. We can design that to go into essentially any location around the globe.
So there's mineral sand monazite in many locations. We would be able to take the two sides of our technology, drop it into a certain location and let's say it's Western Australia, or let's say it's Africa. And they would be able to produce a market ready separated neodymium, praseodymium, dysprosium, terbium very, very quickly and get the most value from their resources. And that's really what we're wanting to achieve. So I think high value add for low value resources is key. And we're also very focused on, I guess, the ESG and sustainability impact of this as well. And, this really is looking like some best in class technologies from the ESG and sustainability point of view as well.
Gerardo Del Real: And do I understand it correctly that the recoveries of the rare earth elements here from the solution were greater than 99%? Is that accurate?
Mark Saxon: Yeah. Kind of accurate. And the way I've expressed it in that press release, we haven't yet measured that in our own test work. And really, we don't need to. We understand what we're doing, but Linda's work and the work from Purdue has shown 99% is achievable in the other work they've done. So we're very happy that we'll be achieving 99% or at least plus 90% when we go into a commercial post.
Gerardo Del Real: You mentioned a larger volume of PLS being separated for scaled up test work and optimization. You mentioned that in the release. How large a volume and what is the goal?
Mark Saxon: Sure. So at the moment we've got a 60 kilograms of monazite, which will go through a digestion process. And so that will then provide enough feedstock for the work at Purdue for many months. In particular, that will give us the opportunity as well to work on the rarer metals, which are dysprosium and terbium. Obviously the rarer metals, there's less in solution. So they're a little bit harder to work with. So using larger volumes will give us that opportunity. And I guess as well, we're talking to a whole range of other partners that are considering themselves, their extraction technologies, their separation technologies, thinking about building separation facilities. Then the position that we're in now, I think it would be crazy for those partners not to speak to Medallion and work out exactly what we're doing and seeing if it's a fit. It won't be a fit for everyone. There's lots of different technologies in the market, but certainly it's going to have a really strong place. And I think this is a really disruptive technology in the rare earth industry.
Gerardo Del Real: What comes next, Mark?
Mark Saxon: We're still pushing on with that Purdue technology. We'll have the tech-economic study in the market very soon. We know that's getting very close and that will then guide us how we use that technology in the future. So we're making plans that are opposed to TA and we'll share those as they come along.
Gerardo Del Real: Looking forward to it. That was a really, really thorough update. Thank you again for the time. Anything else to add to that?
Mark Saxon: No that was great, Gerardo. I appreciate the opportunity to share and it's an interesting market and very glad that we're playing a very pivotal role in a very important market for the US and the globe.
Gerardo Del Real: It's necessary. Good work. Keep it up. Thank you.
Mark Saxon: Thanks, Gerardo. Cheers. Bye now.