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Hutton Garnet Beaches

Highlights

HuttonThe 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.

Location

The 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.

Geology

This 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 Reserves

The 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 & Waterjet

Garnet 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 Developments

The 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 Extraction

C-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 & Recommendations

The 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: This work will form the foundation for a full-scale Feasibility Study.

Detailed Geology

The Hutton project consists of several garnet beach sand deposits located on tidewater in northern Labrador. They were initially staked in 1997 to assess placer diamond potential as a number of ultramafic dykes with kimberlitic affinities had been identified in the area. Almandine garnet has been the primary target mineral since the early stages of the project.

Archean gneisses with a general north-south sub-vertical foliation dominate the area. The metamorphic grade of the area is in the granulite facies with garnet as an important rock forming mineral, often lending a reddish hue to the hillsides. Some of these layers have up to 80-90% garnet content by volume. The Hutton beaches are the result of heavy mineral sorting by wave action on garnet-rich glacial till, producing garnet concentrations of up to 65-70%.

The Hutton Garnet Beaches

The property consists of two beaches separated by a rocky headland at the mouth of a land-locked fiord known as Miriam Lake. They are protected from the north by another headland extending past the mouth of Ryan's Bay. Seven Islands beach is about 14 km (8.7 mi) south, near Kangalaksiorvik Fiord at Seven Islands Bay.

The beaches have been the subject of numerous field programs since 1997, involving geologists and earth scientists with specialized expertise in industrial minerals, placer deposit formation, glacial processes, archeology, environmental science and mineral processing: South Beach, the highest grade deposit, is approximately 1,950 metres in length, with about 65% garnet. The red garnet sands progress from a homogeneous, garnet-enriched zone down to a cobble-rich layer with garnet sands as a matrix (approx. 3 m. depth).

The majority of the extent of South Beach has been drilled with a split spoon sampler, to a depth generally between 3 and 5 metres (10-16'). This work was conducted to evaluate the depth and extent of the garnet sand and refine tonnage estimates released previously. A total of 72 holes were drilled at 100m intervals with side lines at 25m intervals, for a total distance of 1800 metres along the beach. Several deeper holes were attempted, but terminated at 5 metres due to physical limitations of the drill. Garnet content appears quite uniform, in keeping with relatively consistent grades previously reported over the lateral extent of the beach.

Onshore and offshore samples have been analyzed at a number of independent facilities with expertise in heavy mineral sands.

North Beach is a much larger, lower-grade resource than South Beach, extending over 2,350 metres with about 25% garnet. A total of 26 holes have been drilled to an average of 2-3 metres in depth, at an average spacing of 100m intervals along a total beach length of 2350 metres. North Beach generally appears more layered.

Seven Islands beach is a mid-bay bar system developed by dominant southward transport, essentially parallel to the shoreline, under low to moderate energy conditions. The beach is narrower and steeper than the Hutton Beaches.

The offshore areas beyond South, North & Seven Islands Beach are also elevated in garnet. An average of about 25% garnet was established below the low tide line at South Beach by sampling over almost its full length, approximately 1550 metres (5085 ft). The garnet grade of the Seven Islands offshore averages 20% garnet along its length of 1000 metres (3280 ft).

Mineral Info & Processing

The Hutton garnet is mainly pale pink to orange almandine (Fe Al garnet), with 28.6% Fe2O3, 21.5% Al2O3, 8.06% MgO & 4.90% CaO. Ancillary minerals with possible economic potential include approximately 14 wt.% titanium and titanium-iron minerals, present as discrete, rounded particles, consisting of ilmenite and rutile. Lakefield Research estimated approximately 5.0 wt.% ilmenite, 7.0 wt.% hematite/ilmenite, and 1.0 wt.% rutile, with an average of 4.12% TiO2 assayed. Further study would be needed to determine whether titanium minerals add value as a by-product. For more information on garnet and its uses, please see Mineral Info.

Mineral Processing

Many independent laboratories have conducted separation tests on the Hutton garnet sands. Mineral processing of the high grade sands has been relatively straightforward, with combinations of magnetic and gravity separation methods, screening, and sometimes electrostatic separation. High quality concentrates have been made with minimum recovery loss of total garnet, with garnet concentrate representing about 65% of the weight of unprocessed sand from South Beach. The Hutton concentrate passed requirements of the toxic leach test (US-EPA TCLP) required for marketplace acceptance in the USA.

The UBC Center for Industrial Minerals Innovations (CIMI) conducted the most extensive processing study of South Beach sand. CIMI's proposed flow sheet consists of a scalping screen, shaking table, dry high intensity rare earth magnetic separator (DHIMS), and an electrostatic separator. The resulting product achieved 93.1% garnet product with 60% weight recovery. A preliminary test of a North Beach sample produced 78% garnet concentrate with 31.9% recovery from a feed with approximately 30.3% garnet.

Mineral processing work on bulk sample material is ongoing, with a variety of waterjet concentrates prepared and tested by industry. Recent work at the Minerals Engineering Centre at Dalhousie University, Halifax, confirms that waterjet-quality product can be made with limited processing consisting of sieving, DHIMS, induced roll magnetic separation and possibly electrostatic separation. Freeport continues to evaluate and conduct market research for the garnet sands.

Site Documentation & Monitoring

Freeport has commenced a compilation of site documentation which will be used as a basis for long-term monitoring. Several beach formation and environmental consultants are involved in this work.

Photographic Record

A photographic record of site conditions over the past 10 years will be used to study any possible changes. Several observation points have been established to photograph the sites on an annual and ongoing basis. High resolution imagery, both air and satellite photos, are being used to assist in mapping the beaches and shoreline and to study any changes over time.

Topographic & Archeological Surveys

As part of site documentation, the 1999 Legal Survey was repeated to accurately map the South and North Beaches in 3 dimensions, with a high degree of precision in plan as well as in elevation. The topographic survey work was coordinated with an archeological study, and was very important as publicly available maps of northern Labrador are largely based on air photos from many years ago, and do not reflect actual site conditions. The various sets of topographic data will be analyzed and compared to evaluate any natural changes over the period between the surveys.

Offshore Marine Studies

Detailed underwater surveys have been carried out by divers in the vicinity of the South Beach, confirming that the ocean floor is predominantly flat and sandy for kilometres, and represents an extensive and potentially significant heavy mineral sand resource. Sampling of the sea bottom confirmed elevated garnet content as seen in previous results, proving that the offshore sediments are the source of the heavy minerals composing the Hutton garnet beaches.

Over the past several years, the Canadian Hydrographic Service (CHS) has conducted offshore mapping in northern Labrador. This work will greatly assist in improving site access for large-scale commercial vessels, thereby expanding the range of companies able to provide marine services. Offshore data is now being used to plan how marine vessels could best approach the beaches. It is also being coordinated with satellite imagery studies and the onshore topographical studies.

Garnet Extraction

The Hutton beaches are located in a sub-arctic region subject to pack ice for about eight months of the year. They are "bayhead" beaches, where sand built up in a "swash zone" naturally accumulates between headlands. Activity on site is expected to be two weeks up to one month in the summer on an annual basis.

As proposed production volumes are small, garnet extraction would affect only small sections of the beaches. For example, 10,000 tonnes of garnet concentrate represents approximately 0.72 hectares (1.8 acres) or 72m by 100m for a 1 metre depth of garnet sand (236' by 328' for a 3.28' depth). Physical changes due to sand removal would be temporal, as the beach would restore its shape within a matter of days.

Recovery of garnet sand does not necessitate any blasting, crushing and grinding and no chemicals are required. The sand would be moved with relatively small equipment. These activities would be largely confined to the foreshore area, which is primarily free of vegetation.

The beach deposits are produced in a high-energy surf zone and the sand itself is subsequently coarse in texture. No silt or clay, defined by the Department of Fisheries and Oceans as particles from 0.0005 mm to 0.05 mm and smaller, and known to impact fish is present.

Site contouring and reclamation approaches will be addressed in conjunction with production and processing strategies.

Conclusion

The high grades and quality of the Hutton garnet sands, complemented by transportation advantages to a Newfoundland producer serving East Coast markets, significantly contribute to the overall value of the project. Freeport is in discussions with interested parties, both end users and producers, regarding development options for the Hutton.

Beach Formation

Overview

The Hutton garnet beaches are the result of wave action on eroded glacial till. Ocean conditions have resulted in extremely well-sorted sand deposits with high concentrations of heavy minerals, in some cases over 95%>3.2 specific gravity. Ocean sediments are also garnet-enriched. Marine studies conducted since 1999 indicate the sea floor to be flat and sandy for over 750 metres offshore.

The beaches consist of horizontally stratified, medium to coarse sand. Sampling of the beach areas has shown that the red garnet sands progress from a homogeneous, enriched zone of garnet sands down into a cobble-rich zone having both silica and garnet sands as their matrix (approx. 3 m. depth). The beach sand layer is fairly uniform in size and lacking pebble or larger size particles. The shallowly sloping beach surfaces are between 50 and 200 metres wide, with sand dunes above the high tide line.

In contrast to the red garnet sand, the inland terrain is grey and hummocky with many shallow ponds. This is interpreted as end moraine till from the Wisconsin (last) glaciation, derived from bedrock in the immediate area.

Primary rock types are Archean gneisses, largely overprinted with a high-pressure garnet-clinopyroxene granulite facies assemblage. For this reason, garnet is a dominant rock-forming mineral, and hills in the area have a reddish cast. Rocks contain up to 75% garnet.

After glaciers dumped garnet-rich till into the ocean, heavy minerals and sand particles were separated from fines by wave action, gradually collecting along the shore as beach sediments. Further concentration of garnet is ongoing daily in the swash zone: Waves deposit heavier minerals onshore and fines and lighter grains are washed (primary concentration method) or blown away (secondary concentration mechanism). Storm surge action concentrates garnet at the back of the beach by mechanical transport.

The sand deposition pattern is most likely influenced by longshore currents from the southeast, which carry ocean sediments northwards up the coast. Broad areas of accumulated sand, as near the Helga River, are evidence of this process.

The following paraphrases a recent report on the origin and conditions of the Hutton beaches by Dr. Catto, a well recognized expert in beach geomorphology.

Beach Regimes And Dynamics

The Hutton beaches are reworked glacial sediments deposited at the time of the melting of the Miriam Lake Valley glacier. This created a large fan delta complex from Hassell Head to 2 km south of the Helga River outflow, surrounding both the North and South Hutton beaches. Marine shells indicate the delta toe was underwater at the time of deposition. As sea level varied, sediments along the seaward edge were reworked by marine processes, as they continue to be today. Importantly, the Hutton heavy mineral sand deposits are geologically 'young' with sub-angular particles in contrast to the older, reworked South Asian and Australian alluvial deposits which feature well rounded grain shapes.

The sand deposits are classified as "sand dominated wide flats" developed on sediment substrates. Development of this type of system under a boreal to arctic climate in formerly glaciated terrain indicates relatively low energy and limited storm activity compared to a gravel-dominated system, with sediment supply considerably in excess of the amount removed by erosion and transportation. The presence of offshore seasonal ice reduces the period available for storm wave erosion. In addition, seasonal freezing and snow cover on the beaches limits the removal of sand during winter storms. The shallow offshore bathymetry, low energy levels, absence of large cusps and scoured channels and gently concave configuration of the shorelines, indicate that both North and South Beach can be considered as dissipative, low energy systems.

Individual beaches show indications of sediment transport along their lengths. The net transport of sediment takes place from south to north along both South Beach and North Beach.

In summary, the two beaches are modally relatively low energy systems protected from winter storms by seasonal ice and have abundant sediment supply. They are dissipative systems with shallow, gently sloping offshore bathymetry, dominated by shore-parallel transport.

South Beach

The South Hutton Beach is a baymouth bar system developed by dominant northward transport, essentially parallel to the shoreline, under low energy, largely dissipative conditions. The presence of offshore sand bars indicates that dissipative conditions are normally dominant. The beach widens to the north, and the outlet of Helga River has been displaced northward, as have the drainage channels for shallow ponds in the former lagoonal area. The alignment of the small spits and channels at the mouth of the river also indicate dominant northern transport. Aerial photographs indicate this direction has been generally maintained over the past 60 years since the first pictures were taken.

Small, laterally coalescent dome dunes and incipient parabolic dunes are present in the backbeach. The dunes appear to be generally stable or growing with local surfaces covered with some grass. The increase in height to 3 metres can be observed at the north end near the Helga River outlet.

The forebeach and nearshore areas are marked by ridge-and-runnel development, where garnet is concentrated on the ridges and runnels are infilled by quartz and feldspar. Difference in density and to lesser degree in grain size result in the segregation of mineral species into distinct bands. Differing wave energies associated with storm events are responsible for the formation of multiple bands of mineralogically segregated assemblages. Higher concentrations of garnet at some backbeach and upper forebeach sites reflect both residual lags of heavy minerals following winnowing of quartz and feldspar, and initial deposition during higher energy wave events.

The presence of concentrations of garnets in the active areas of the forebeach and in the nearshore zone, and their formation into constructional ripples and incorporation into cuspate features indicate that garnets are being actively transported into and within the South Beach system. The pattern of concentration around the Helga River mouth and along the river, with the highest concentrations generally seaward and successive layers of alternating garnet-rich and garnet-poor units exposed in cutbanks, indicate that the garnets did not originate from fluvial transport of Helga River. The vertical succession and variation in thickness visible in the cutbanks indicates that the garnets were transported from east to west, i.e. inland by wave action. The beach is growing because sediment influx is greater than the sediment erosion.

The variations recorded by the exploration programs and photographs suggest that there is sediment accumulation at the northern end of the beach system and there is net transport from south to north.

North Beach

North Beach is an essentially independent system from the South Beach. Although some sediment from South Beach may eventually be transported to North Beach, the configuration of the northernmost part of South Beach in comparison to North Beach indicates that sediment is not directly transferred from one to the other, largely due to the rocky headland between.

North Hutton Beach is also a baymouth bar system developed by dominant northward transport, essentially parallel to the shoreline, under low energy, largely dissipative conditions. The beach widens to the north and the outlet of Howard Lake is located at the far northern end of the barrier system. This geomorphology, including the alignment of the small spits at the mouth of the Howard Lake outlet, indicates dominant northward transport. Hassell Head deflects the main flow of the coastal subcurrents associated with the Labrador Current offshore, shielding North Beach from the direct effects of the net southeastward flow. Sediment movement is generated primarily by waves generated from the southeast, counter to the modal direction of the offshore current. There is consistent northward direction of transport, and dome dunes and parabolic dunes are present in the backbeach area.

Garnet, feldspar and quartz distribution and concentration is similar to the situation described for the South Beach. The presence of concentrations of garnets in the active areas of the forebeach and in the nearshore zone, however, and their formation into constructional ripples indicate that garnets are being actively transported into and within the North Beach system.

The heavy minerals are less mobile and thus remain as lag deposits when moderate energy events rework the surface sediments. Higher concentrations of heavy minerals may result primarily from the removal of quartz and feldspar, rather than the deposition of greater amounts of heavy minerals.
Although there is net transport from south to north, the maintenance of geomorphology indicates that the amount of sediment influx to the southern end of the beach approximately balances the amount of transport to the north. At the northern end, sediment is currently accumulating, while the south part remains constant.

Seven Islands Beach

Seven Islands Beach is a mid-bay bar system developed by dominant southward transport, essentially parallel to the shoreline, under low to moderate energy conditions. The beach is narrower and steeper than the Hutton Beaches. The beach widens from north to south, indicating a net southward transport direction. Because the beach is protected from eastern and southeastern winds by several islands -- including Amiktok and Whale Islands -- the wave reworking takes place only from the northeast.




Tonnage And Grade

Total world consumption of waterjet cutting garnet is estimated over 100,000 tonnes per year. Preliminary Resource estimates based on sampling since 1997 indicate the Hutton deposits could meet this demand for many years.

The total onshore Measured Resource at the South Beach alone could potentially supply 20,000 tonnes garnet concentrate annually for over 20 years. Half of this Resource is classified as a Probable Mineral Reserve. The remaining garnet at the North Beach and the offshore are available to meet long-term additional demand.

A number of Hutton garnet concentrates have been successfully tested against commercial grade products, and potential market areas have been identified with garnet users located within an economical distance.

Resource Estimates And Reserves

The Prefeasibility Report and Marketing Summary (PRMS, October 2004) outlines preliminary resource and reserve estimates of 1,307,950 metric tonnes garnet (1,438,750 short tons). 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 as noted below). In accordance with NI43-101, the effective date of the estimates is October 18, 2004.

Garnet Content(weight %) Total
Area
(square metres)
Estimated Resource (tonnes per metre depth) Estimated Total Depth (metres) Estimated Total Garnet(tonnes)*2 Estimated Total Garnet(tons)*2
MEASURED RESOURCES
S. Beach Onshore 60 185,625 256,150 2 512,300*1 563,530
N. Beach Onshore 25 296,525 133,450 2 266,900 293,590
Sub-Total 389,600 779,200 857,120
INDICATED RESOURCES
S. Beach Offshore 25 775,000 348,750 1 348,750 383,625
Seven Islands Offshore 20 500,000 180,000 1 180,000 198,000
Sub-Total 528,750 528,750 581,625
TOTAL 918,350 1,307,950 1,438,750
*1 256,150 tonnes included as Probable Reserve
*2 Note: Tonne=2205 lbs., Ton = 2000 lbs (Canadian metric tonne x 1.1 = US short ton)
*3 Note: Dry bulk density used in above calculations, South Beach: ~2.3 tonnes/m3
North Beach and South Beach offshore: ~1.8 tonnes/m3 (due to lower garnet content)

Mineral Info

Garnet: The Mineral

Garnet is the general name given to a group of complex silicate minerals with widely varying chemical composition, but all with isometric crystal structure. Garnet has relatively high specific gravity and is considered a heavy mineral. It is non-toxic, chemically inert, and has no crystalline silica. Garnets are classified into three main groups, with extensive substitutions possible within each:

Aluminum Garnet: Almandine (Fe, Al garnet), grossular (Al, Ca garnet), pyrope (Mg, Al garnet), and spessartine (Mn, Al garnet)
Chromium Garnet: Uvarovite (Cr, Ca garnet)
Iron Garnet: Andradite (Fe, Ca garnet)

The mineral garnet ranges widely in colour, from almost black to purple, red and pink, as well as varieties of yellow, orange and green. Colour alone is not always indicative of the type of garnet.

Garnet occurs worldwide in many rock types, principally gneisses and schists; other sources include contact metamorphic rocks, metamorphosed crystalline limestones, pegmatites, and serpentinites. Occurrences of hard rock and placer garnet are numerous; however, relatively few commercially viable garnet deposits have been discovered. Placer garnet is recovered from heavy-mineral sand and gravel deposits in many parts of the world.

The most common variety within the garnet family is almandine. Its color, from red, reddish orange, to reddish purple depends on small changes in its chemical composition. It is hard (6.5-7.5), heavy (4.1 sg), without cleavage, and insoluble in acids. The grains survive erosion and are concentrated by wave and wind action, as is the case at the Hutton garnet beaches.

Almandine garnet is an effective abrasive largely due to its hardness and lack of cleavage. It is hard enough to scratch and cut most common metals and glass, and is the primary garnet type commonly used in industry, although some andradite is used in filtration. Almandine is currently produced at several hard rock and placer mines in the USA, with much imported from Southeast Asia. India, Australia, and China are important garnet producers, with lesser amounts mined in the Ukraine and in South Africa.

Hutton Garnet

Hutton garnet is mainly pale pink to orange almandine (Fe3Al2Si3O12), and similar to commercially available garnet around the world. Garnet grains typically contain few inclusions and are unfractured -- important for abrasive waterjet cutting as breakage resistance is increased. As the Hutton garnet beaches are geologically 'young', the garnet grains are mostly sub-angular: Photomicrographs illustrate grain shapes ideal for nearly all waterjet applications.

The Hutton sand is mineralogically quite homogeneous. The deposits have a natural particle size distribution well suited to water-abrasive jet cutting. The garnet grains are generally 0.30mm to 0.15mm in diameter -- the sizing required for waterjet products. Lesser amounts of coarser material may be used for sand blasting applications.

Processing of the Hutton sand has shown a commercial product is easily produced. Waterjet testing indicates the garnet is very suitable for use in commercial applications.

Uses of Garnet

The main markets for garnet sand are abrasive waterjet cutting, abrasive blast media and water filtration.

Abrasive waterjet cutting

Perhaps the most exciting market for garnet is in the waterjet cutting industry. Patented in the early 1980's, this emerging computer-based technology uses ultra-high pressure water forced through very small nozzles to cut a wide range of materials. If fine garnet is introduced into the flow, precision cuts become possible in a wide range of materials, from titanium metal to glass.

In comparison to lasers, which operate at high temperatures and are limited to cutting 1.3 -- 2 cm thick material, abrasive jets are more versatile and more cost-effective. Commonly used on 10 cm thick metal sheets, waterjets can cut up to 25 cm steel and 60 cm glass at slow speeds, or surface etch for decorative purposes. Any complex two-dimensional shape may be machined with high precision and excellent quality finish. Some waterjet machines cut with a tolerance of +/- 0.005 cm. For these reasons, the aerospace industry makes extensive use of this technology.

Total demand for this sector is difficult to estimate, and published figures range substantially. Waterjets utilize garnet in the 0.30 mm to 0.15 mm size range. The natural size distribution of the Hutton sand is naturally suited to a #80 mesh product most commonly in use for waterjet applications.

The waterjet business sector will remain an important and growing opportunity, not just in North America, but worldwide in the years to come. The Hutton project is well located geographically to benefit from future growth, particularly in North America and Europe. More comprehensive information on abrasive jet waterjet machining can be found at the Waterjet Web Reference.

Abrasive blasting

In abrasive blasting, a grain of material is held in a pressurized steel pot until released through a system of hoses and a nozzle to impact a surface. The grain, often traveling at velocities approaching the speed of sound, cleans the surface through a combination of "cutting" through layers of dirt and paint, and through a mechanical action of disrupting the surface through shock impact. Nearly any material of the proper size to pass through the pneumatic system with sufficient mass to carry energy can be used as a blasting abrasive.

In abrasive blasting, nearly any sizing shown to be effective can find a market niche. Garnet sizes used for blast cleaning range from very coarse material (about 2.0 mm) used in some specialized recycling applications to fine grained (0.15 mm) material used to clean aluminum and thin steel. Most blasting is done with material in the 0.8 x 0.5 mm and a slightly finer 0.6 x 0.2 mm size range. Published prices for garnet blasting products are slightly lower than those for waterjet-grade garnet.

Water filtration

The third major market for garnet grains is in single or multi-media, high-density sand filters. The use of garnet as a high-density layer under the sand and anthracite layers can increase the efficiency of the filtering process in some areas.

Media: Hutton Garnet Beaches

Webcasts

"Garnet" in Northern Labrador
CBC, Newfoundland & Labrador, July 2012

A few years ago, Freeport Resources was on the hunt for diamonds in Northern Labrador. Instead, the company found a rich deposit of a mineral called Garnet, north of Nain. Not as romantic or as rare as diamonds - but the sand has its uses. It's in demand as a precision cutting tool in high tech industries. This summer, Freeport is taking a bulk sample of the mineral...and may come back for boatloads of the stuff. A Garnet mine would be a first for Labrador. Brenda Clark is president of Freeport Resources. She spoke to Labrador Morning producer Chris Harbord

Reports

Hutton Environmental Assessment Review - South Beach Bulk Sampling (Garnet Sand)
(1.3 MB)

Hutton Environmental Assessment Summary - South Beach Bulk Sampling (Garnet Sand)

Hutton Garnet Request For Proposals 2006
(1.6 MB)

Hutton Prefeasibility & Marketing Summary 2004
(1.2 MB)


Articles

'High time to do it' -- Freeport's Brenda Clark is hoping time and tides are right for Hutton beaches project
The Business Post, June, 2012

Getting Closer - Freeport Resources' Brenda Clark determined to see development
The Business Post, November, 2009

Harnessing Garnet in Canada
The Mining Journal (UK), June, 2009

Moving Along - Work resumes on Hutton garnet beaches
The Business Post, June, 2009

Interest growing in Hutton garnet beaches
The Business Post, November 2007

Freeport Resources Moves to Pilot Plant Stage
Industrial Specialties News, September 2007

Proposal Deadline Extension
Resources Newfoundland and Labrador, October 2006

Making The Cut
The Business Post, August 2006

Joining The Jet Set
IM Exposure, March 2006

Cutting Composites
Advanced Technologies Supplement, 2006
(2.3 MB)

Developing The Hutton Project
CIM Bulletin, August 2005
(2.1 MB)

Green Light for Garnet Mine
The Telegram, January 2005

National Park Carved To Make Way For Mining
St. John's CBC, January 2005
The boundaries of the new national park for Northern Labrador have been altered to help facilitate what could be a mining development.

Renewed Prospects For Canadian Garnet
IM Exposure, November 2004

Going For Garnet
Mineral Price Watch, November 2004

Work Resumes In Earnest On Freeport's Hutton Garnet Property
Voisey's Bay News, October 2004

Hutton Garnet Beaches
IM Exposure, February 2004

Working Together
Voisey's Bay News, December 2003
(.7 MB)

Freeport Completes Hutton Garnet Report
North American Mineral News, June 2001

High-grade Garnet Sands For Freeport
Mining Journal, Jan 1999

Freeport Resources Planning Canadian Garnet Sand Study
North American Mineral News, April 1999

Freeport Upgrades Garnet Sands
Mining Journal, May 1999


Related Links

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