Mineral and applications technology company Rare Earth Salts (RES) has signed a joint development agreement (JDA) with an undisclosed mining company, to process rare earth metals in the US.

To be implemented in phases, the JDA will see RES deploying its technology to extract, separate and refine rare earth elements at one of the deposits.

RES’ CEO Allen Kruse said: "After working with more than thirty deposits around the globe we selected [the] mining company for both the attractiveness of their deposit and the credibility that comes with working with them on our first project.

"RES will be responsible for the sale of the rare earth metal end products that are separated and refined at the commercial scale facility." 

With the completion of this agreement we are now entirely focused on building a successful pilot plant."

The pilot plant will be constructed in south-eastern Nebraska, with works commencing in early 2015 and scheduled to last for 18 months, the company said.

A definitive feasibility study will be undertaken when the pilot plant is completed, after which construction of a commercial scale facility is planned.

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Under the terms of the JDA, RES will be responsible for the sale of the rare earth metal end products that are separated and refined at the commercial scale facility.

In September, RES filed a provisional patent application in the US for its rare earth metals extraction and processing technology.

The company claims its process of separation and refining of all the 16 rare earth elements results in purity levels greater than 99.9%.

The environmentally friendly process recovers and reutilises all consumables to ensure low operating costs, RES said.