Monday, 26 November 2012

Great Western provides corporate update, Steenkampskraal PEA still on track

Great Western Minerals Group (CVE:GWG) provided Monday an update on its corporate activities and operations after the recent resignation of three long-standing directors - Gary Billingsley, Jim Engdahl, and Bill McKnight - as the company transitions to a rare earth production phase and progresses toward the appointment of a new CEO. 
Great Western's former producing Steenkampskraal mine is under development through refurbishment, as the company builds a rare earth mixed chloride plant and a rare earth solvent extraction separation plant near the mine. 
The aim of the preliminary economic assessment (PEA) report underway is to further develop operational and financial projections based on an independent analysis of the mining of rare earth-bearing monazite, the extraction to mixed chloride, separation of oxides and metal and alloy production. 
The company instructed its PEA consultants, Snowden Mining, to extend the original scope of the PEA work to include a new resource estimate for the area of mineralization found at Steenkampskraal in recent months. Great Western reported Monday "excellent progress" with regards to wrapping up the PEA by its fourth quarter target.
It also said today that it has contracted DRA Mineral Projects to review and complete the remaining work relating to the decline shaft  refurbishment and hoisting equipment commissioning. DRA is also continuing with the design and engineering work as the main  contractor for the mixed rare earth chloride facility at  Steenkampskraal.
The company's development program at Steenkampskraal is central to ensure a strong flow of feedstock for its downstream processing - it intends to be one of the first to produce significant quantities of the more valuable heavy rare earth oxides, which are important materials for alloys.
Indeed, the rare earth processor already produces specialty alloys, used in the magnet, battery, defence and aerospace industries, at its facilities - Less Common Metals (LCM) in Birkenhead, U.K. and Great Western Technologies (GWT) in Troy, Michigan. 
At its LCM facility, the company has been working to deliver rare earth alloys using its new strip cast furnace, optimizing melt conditions, with customers currently evaluating. 
The second strip cast furnace ordered from the same Chinese supplier is now fabricated, and is scheduled to arrive in the latter part of the first quarter of next year. It is expected to be fully operational in the second quarter. The company said it will conduct a tour of the LCM facilities for analysts on Thursday, November 29.
Meanwhile, the company's GWT subsidiary, as announced back in October, was selected by  the United States Department of Defense to conduct a supply chain  assessment of military use of high-purity Yttrium oxide, as well as a study of  material optimization and recycling methods. 
The study is now underway and Great Western expects the project can position it "as a valued participant in  the United States rare earth industry".
As part of its vertical integration strategy, Great Western holds 100 per cent of Rare Earth Extraction Co. Limited, which owns a 74 per cent equity stake in the Steenkampskraal mine in South Africa. 
The current NI 43-101 report for Steenkampskraal, filed on May 31, indicates the presence of 13,823.64 metric tonnes of TREO, including yttrium, under the indicated resource category, and 14,147.76 metric tonnes under the inferred resource category, each using a one per cent cut-off grade.
It also holds a portfolio of rare earth exploration properties in North America.

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