Great Western Minerals Group (GWMG) has reported positive results from a preliminary economic assessment (PEA) of its Steenkampskraal rare earth element (REE) project in Western Cape province, South Africa. The project includes an underground mine and future reprocessing of tailings, a rare earth chloride plant that produces mixed rare earth chloride, and a solvent extraction separation plant that produces separated rare earth oxides (REOs). Thereafter, GWMG’s business model includes installation of metal-making capacity and expansion of current alloy production capacity at Less Common Metals Ltd., a GWMG subsidiary in the United Kingdom.
GWMG is a Canadian company headquartered in Saskatoon, Saskatchewan, and is listed on the TSX Venture Exchange.
The planned Steenkampskraal mine and rare earth chloride plant are located about 350 km north of Cape Town, South Africa. The project is based on a high-grade, narrow-vein underground mine that was successfully operated by Anglo American to recover thorium between 1952 and 1963. The planned mine is estimated to hoist approximately 165 mt/d of run-of-mine material.
The PEA is based 278,000 mt of inferred mineral resources at an average grade of 15.2% total REOs and 176,000 mt of indicated mineral resources at an average grade of 18.2% total REOs, each using a 1% total REOs cut-off grade. The resource estimates included the historic mine area and exploration areas to the east and west of the mine, as well as historic tailings.
Capital costs are estimated at C$175.55 million, including pre-production and post-production capital costs for the mine and rare earth chloride plant, capital costs for the separation plant, sustaining capital, and a contingency.
Production is projected to start within 24 months of the completion of required project financing at a design capacity of 5,000 mt/y of contained REOs. Production of separated REOs is projected to start within 12 months of the commencement of rare earth chloride production at a design capacity of approximately 5,000 mt/y of separated REOs.