Monday, 26 March 2012

Great Western Minerals' processing unit orders 2nd rare earth strip cast furnace

Great Western Minerals Group (CVE:GWG) (OTCQX:GWMGF) said Monday that its UK rare earth alloys processing subsidiary, Less Common Metals, has signed a contract for the purchase of a second rare earth strip cast furnace.
The new strip cast furnace features similar design and output capacity as the first strip cast furnace unit purchased by the unit in 2011, and commissioned in January 2012, the company said.
Under the purchase agreement, the furnace will be shipped from China prior to the end of November, at which time it will be installed at Less Common Metals by a team of engineers, comprised of the company's own technical staff and personnel from the furnace manufacturer.
"The manufacturer was extremely complimentary about the level of technical competence and engineering support from LCM during the installation of the first furnace," said managing director of the Less Common Metals unit, Ian Higgins.
"The second strip cast furnace will increase the total production capacity of LCM to approximately 2,000 tonnes per annum of rare earth alloys."
Great Western Mineralscombines upstream resource exploration and extraction at its Steenkampskraal  mine in South Africa with downstream metals processing facilities in the US and UK.  Its specialty alloys are used in the battery, magnet and aerospace industries.
The company is working on completing an NI 43-101 compliant report for the Steenkampskraal mine to confirm historical data and  expand the size of the resource, expected in the first half of this year.
Main Zone historic estimates from the property contained TREO grades of 11.6%. In January, the company inked a joint venture deal with China's Ganzhou Qiandong Rare Earth Group for the construction of a rare earth separation plant nearby the South African property.
The company also holds interests in four active rare earth exploration and development properties in North America.
"GWMG remains committed to the capacity expansion of LCM in response to demonstrated industry demand," said president and CEO, Jim Engdahl.
"Twenty years of experience in the rare earth alloy industry on the part of LCM has meant a smooth transition in adding to our broad range of melting and reduction furnaces.
"That experience, combined with the planned output of rare earth materials from our company's Steenkampskraal operation, will enable GWMG to ramp up quickly in response to demand growth on the part of our global customer base."
While some rare earths are relatively common, they are dispersed in a way that makes it difficult to find deposits with high enough ore grades to economically exploit.
Due to their unique attributes, new applications are constantly being developed for rare earths. Demand for the metals is expected to continue to grow steadily as China, which produces 97 percent of the world’s rare earths, has cut exports by more than half of 2004 levels to 30,000 tons in 2010.

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