Rare earth processor Great Western Minerals Group(CVE:GWG), which is aiming to become a producer of the metals, has said that its second strip casting furnace has been delivered to its rare earth alloy manufacturing subsidiary, UK-based Less Common Metals (NYSE:LCM).
The company said in a statement Wednesday that it expects the second furnace, which it notes arrived on schedule, will be fully installed and commissioned by the end of the second quarter.
The rare earths processor, which is transitioning to a fully integrated rare earths producer, makes specialty alloys used in the magnet, battery, defence and aerospace industries from two facilities in the U.S. and U.K. Its development program at its Steenkampskraal rare earth mine in South Africa, which includes a restart of the historical mine, is central for a strong flow of feedstock for its downstream processing unit.
Great Western's plan is to be one of the first to produce significant quantities of the more valuable heavy rare earth oxides, which are important materials for alloys. It recently announced a series of management changes to prepare for a new stage of life in the company, including the promotion of Vic Fitzmaurice to the position of Steenkampskraal managing director.
Last month, its shares rallied after it said Less Common Metals started commerical production with its first rare earth alloy strip casting furnace - all a part of Great Western's plan to boost the facility's capacity in preparation for Steenkampskraal coming online.
"Following the successful commissioning of the first strip casting furnace a number of design features were built into the second furnace during its construction at the Chinese manufacturing plant," said the company in a statement Wednesday, citing LCM's managing director, Ian Higgins.
"This is expected to significantly reduce the time required for installation and commissioning of the second furnace. As we move forward, we will ensure our strip casting capacity continues to match the requirements of our customers."
Earlier in March, the company took another crucial step toward de-risking its Steenkampskraal mine, announcing a strong preliminary economic assessment (PEA) of the project with an IRR of 66 percent after tax. The preliminary report shows a $555 million net present value after tax, when applying a 10 percent discount rate.
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