Hutton Garnet Beaches
Projects Overview Newfoundland & Labrador British Columbia
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HighlightsThe Hutton project consists of several beach sand deposits in northern Labrador. Due to remarkably high garnet grades, the beaches are visibly red on satellite photographs. Accordingly, the project has received considerable international attention.
The size of the grains in the Hutton deposits falls naturally into the range commonly sought in at least two commercially well established markets -- waterjet cutting and abrasive blast cleaning. Processing of Hutton sand has shown a concentrate is easily produced, and testing indicates the garnet is very suitable for use in commercial applications.
The 2004 Prefeasibility Report and Marketing Summary outlines preliminary resource and reserve estimates of over 1.25 million metric tonnes garnet (over 1.4 million short tons). The project is now moving towards the development stage.
LocationThe Hutton garnet beaches (112 claims, 28 sq. km., 10.8 sq. mi.) are located on tidewater in the Province of Newfoundland and Labrador about 360 km (224 mi) north of Nain. This part of the northern Labrador coastline, extending from Seven Islands to Ryan's Bay, has been known for decades as the "Iron Strand". Communities in the vicinity include Kanqisualujjuaq (George River, 155 km west) in Quebec, and Iqaluit on Baffin Island (Frobisher Bay, 530 km north-west), in Nunavut.
GeologyThis area of Labrador is underlain by garnet-rich Archean gneisses. South, North & Seven Islands Beach (about 14km south) are all bayhead beaches, where sand collects naturally between headlands. They were formed by sorting and concentration of heavy minerals by wave and wind action on garnet-rich till from a glacial end moraine deposited into the ocean at the time of the last glacial event. For more information, please refer to the Beach Formation section.
The Hutton garnet deposits have unusually high concentrations of almandine garnet; the South Beach averages over 60% garnet and exceeds 75% locally. The North Beach is a much larger, lower-grade resource with samples to date averaging about 25% garnet. The unusually high grade of the South Beach deposit -- about four times of what is currently mined in Idaho (Emerald Creek, ~14%) and twice that in Western Australia (GMA, ~30%) -- assures that small areas can yield significant values in contained garnet. Disturbance of only a few acres represents full-scale annual production.
For more information, please visit our Detailed Geology section.
Resource Estimates and ReservesThe Prefeasibility Report and Marketing Summary (PRMS) outlines preliminary resource and reserve estimates of 1,307,950 metric tonnes garnet (1,438,750 short tons as of October 18, 2004 -NI43-101 Effective Date). At the South Beach, a one metre depth has been sufficiently verified to classify half the total Measured Resource -- 256,150 tonnes -- as a Probable Reserve (included in Measured Resources). The total onshore Measured Resource at the South Beach alone could potentially supply 20,000 tonnes garnet concentrate annually for over 20 years. The North Beach and offshore deposits provide further garnet to fill additional demand over time. Please refer to Tonnage & Grade section for further detail.
Hutton Garnet & WaterjetGarnet sand at the Hutton beaches has an almandine composition, and is similar to high quality commercially available garnet around the world. Hutton garnet grains are sub-angular, have few inclusions and are free of internal fractures, with a natural particle size distribution ideally suited to waterjet applications. For more information on garnet and its uses, please see Mineral Info.
All waterjet tests with Hutton garnet to date have met with strongly positive responses, with many requests for additional material for larger-scale tests. Hutton has performed very well in several industry-wide studies of commercially available waterjet products. One manufacturer concluded it performed equal to or better than a hard-rock garnet product imported from China. Freeport believes that the Hutton garnet will command a respectable place in the market once it becomes commercially available.
Waterjet grade garnet is currently in high demand, which has led to industry-wide price increases. Garnet pricing depends on quality, packaging and amount purchased, with sandblast grade at a slightly lower price than waterjet garnet. Comparable high-quality waterjet garnet is available in North America at prices ranging from about C$500-1250/tonne. The waterjet market has a historic annual growth rate of over 12% and continues to expand in major eastern industrial centres such as Montreal, Toronto, Boston, New York and Philadelphia, and in Europe (PRMS).
Recent DevelopmentsThe 5000 tonne bulk sample planned for next season has been released from environmental assessment -- a significant project milestone. Work plan approval has been received to collect approximately 2150 cubic metres of garnet-rich sand to fine-tune mineral processing, finalize plant design, and make garnet products for larger scale market testing. This work will ultimately confirm logistics for commercial production.
Market research, product testing, industry regulation research and distribution planning in the USA and Europe are well underway. Freeport's Export Market Development Plan project was accepted for funding by the Atlantic Canada Opportunities Agency and was completed in October 2009.
The Hutton Project has been widely featured in the press and various industry publications. Articles have appeared in the Canadian Institute of Mining Bulletin (August 2005), as well as Industrial Minerals (IM, Metal Bulletin, UK) (March 2006, November & February 2004), Mineral Price Watch (NY), the Mining Journal (UK), North American Minerals News (NY), the Voisey's Bay News and the Business Express Post (NL, Canada). The Prefeasibility Report and Marketing Study was quoted extensively in Mineral Price Watch (NY), as the feature article entitled "Going for Garnet". Please see our Media Library for articles on the Hutton project.
Processing and Pilot Plant
Further work on the processing model (Dr. Klein, Center for Industrial Minerals Innovations, UBC) continues. CIMI's proposed flow sheet is simple, economical, and environmentally friendly. It consists of a scalping screen, wet gravity concentration, dry high intensity rare earth magnetic separation, and optional electrostatic separation. Processing methods require limited equipment and minimal capital costs. Please see the Detailed Geology section for further information.
The Hutton garnet will now be tested at a pilot plant level to prepare larger amounts of product for broader market testing. In-depth transportation analysis is underway in order to evaluate possible pilot plant locations that capitalize on proximity to nearby markets in eastern North America and possibly western Europe.
Hutton Request for Proposals
The Request for Proposals (RFP) was an open-ended proposal call to evaluate the Hutton Garnet Beaches as a potential development opportunity. It states, "Freeport Resources Inc. wishes to see the Hutton project developed in a way that maximizes the value to its shareholders, respects the interests of the Labrador Inuit, and minimizes its environmental footprint." The RFP garnered interest from North America, Europe and SE Asia. Freeport has been in discussions with many of the major players in the garnet industry, from suppliers to distributors, and from service providers to garnet consumers. Information generated by the RFP is being used to advance the next stages of the project.
Site Logistics & Mineral ExtractionC-Core, located at the Memorial University of NL (MUN) in St. John's, recently completed an independent review of various ways to extract garnet. Garnet recovery may involve pre-concentrating the sand, loading it onto a barge, and shipping it to a processing plant for separation and bagging. At this time, the Hutton project is generally being considered as a tug and barge operation. Methods under consideration include pumping sand from shore to a barge or ship offshore, or possibly a tandem barge arrangement where a smaller barge could be beached and used as a portable dock, thereby limiting need for infrastructure on site. In this option, small earth-moving equipment could be used to move bagged or bulk material across the landing barge to a larger vessel in deeper water. Spud barges could also be considered. It is possible that long-term alternatives may be developed, such as backhaul arrangements with arctic supply vessels returning empty to major ports in eastern Canada. This work is moving to a more detailed stage to determine what approaches will be most effective and also most environmentally friendly. Please see the Detailed Geology section for further information.
Conclusion & RecommendationsThe Hutton garnet deposits are well-situated to serve both North American and European garnet markets for years to come. They represent an important Canadian resource that could be brought into commercial production within one to two years. Freeport has assembled a technical team to assist with: