Rare earths processor Great Western Minerals Group(CVE:GWG) provided Wednesday a corporate update on its activities, and said that its preliminary economic assessment (PEA) for its Steenkampskraal project previously scheduled for the end of January has been postponed to sometime before the end of the first quarter.
The delay is due to the company gathering additional metallurgical and capex data in light of the recently expanded resource estimate announced last week.
Great Western last week released an updated NI 43-101 compliant resource estimate at Steenkampskraal, prepared by Snowden Mining Industry Consultants, which showed a mineral resource of 32,000 metric tonnes of total rare earth oxides plus yttrium oxide (TREO) under the indicated category, and another 42,100 metric tonnes under the inferred category. Both categories used a 1% TREO cut-off grade.
Indicated resources rose by more than double from the resource estimate last May, while inferred resources more than tripled.
On Monday, the company also announced a 9,400-metre, 65-hole diamond drilling program at its past-producing Steenkampskraal property in South Africa. With its new drilling program, Great Western said it will also do infill drilling on areas of lower data density in order to upgrade inferred mineral resources to the indicated category, and selected orientated core drilling in support of planned underground developments.
Great Western has announced a series of management additions and changes in recent weeks in preparation for a new stage in the life of the company, as it aims to become a fully integrated rare earth producer.
Currently, Great Western is a rare earth processor, whose specialty alloys are used in the magnet, battery, defence and aerospace industries. Produced at the company's subsidiaries Less Common Metals (NYSE:LCM) in Birkenhead, U.K. and Great Western Technologies (GWT) in Troy, Michigan, these alloys contain aluminum, nickel, cobalt and rare earth elements (NYSEMKT:REE).
Its development program at Steenkampskraal is central to ensure a strong flow of feedstock for its downstream processing - the company 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.
Also in the update today, the relocation of its UK-based LCM facility is now virtually complete, with the new location housing LCM's first strip casting furnace with provision for substantial expansion.
All equipment that had been in operation at the Valley Road site, including the analytical laboratory, has been relocated to Hooton Parkand is now fully operational, Great Western said.
Sampling has been undertaken for all key customers, the company added, and LCM is progressing into advanced stages of "commercial supply contract / technical approval" stages.
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