Great Western Minerals Group (CVE:GWG) provided investors with an update to its exploration and mining operations on Tuesday, including at its flagship Steenkampskraal mine in South Africa.
As it announced late last month, Great Western completed the first phase of its exploration program at the 474-hectare, former-producing Steenkampskraal rare earth property in South Africa.
The drill program had two primary goals: to provide information in support of a fully compliant NI 43-101 resource estimate report for the area, and to collect a representative mini-bulk sample for metallurgical testing.
The program consisted of 39 diamond drill holes totaling 3,780 metres, including 17 holes for resource delineation, totaling 1,932 metres, and 22 holes dedicated to metallurgical sampling, 1,848 metres. Assay results are pending and will be reported as they are received from the laboratories, the company said.
The company has also launched a 3,000-metre exploration program that will include on-strike and down-dip drill holes at the Steenkampskraal project, in order to test the extension of the mineralized vein system.
The drilling has started, and is currently targeting the strike extension of the vein mineralization that is located immediately west of the current mine site.
Great Western also announced that the first 125 metres of the decline at the Steenkampskraal mine has been refurbished, with 50 metres remaining to be completed.
Modern, high-volume underground ventilation continues to be improved with the installation of two new fans at the base of the underground workings, Great Western added. The ventilation distribution system is designed to substantially mitigate radon measurements in the working areas.
The Steenkampskraal mine now contains a full complement of ancillary buildings, including management offices, change houses, laundry service, mine workshops, and storage facilities.
Potable and mine recirculation water systems are also now in place. The reverse osmosis plant has been successfully installed with a capacity of 18,000 litres per hour. This capacity is important to management's priority of continuous re-use of the available water resource, thereby minimizing overall water use at site, it said.
In other news, Great Western and Ganzhou Qiandong Rare Earth Group of China established an incorporated JV last month, called Great Western GQD Rare Earth Materials Co Ltd, for the design, construction, and operation of a rare earth separation plant, which will be located in the Steenkampskraal region.
In addition to its Steenkampskraal rare earth property in South Africa, Great Western also owns four rare earth exploration projects throughout North America, and two rare earth processing plants through its subsidiaries Less Common Metals in Birkenhead, U.K., and Great Western Technologies in Troy, Michigan, where it makes rare earth element-based specialty alloys.
Last month, Great Western's joint venture (JV) partner in the Red Wine exploration project, Search Minerals, said its phase three drilling program had extended the rare earth element mineralization to 400 metres depth at the project.
Meanwhile, earlier in January, Search announced the discovery of high-grade rare earth element mineralization in the Merlot prospect at the Red Wine property in Labrador.
Less Common Metals (LCM) also announced in January that it received a significant capacity boost. LCM added a new furnace at Hooton Park, near its existing facilities, raising capacity by about 50 percent. LCM said it plans to add new furnaces in response to the increasing demand from its growing global customer base.