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Great Western Minerals to acquire 100% of Rare Earth Extraction Co

Rare earths processor Great Western Minerals (CVE:GWG) said Monday that it has initiated the process to acquire the remaining shares not already held by the company in Rare Earth Extraction Co. (Rareco), resulting in a 100% stake.

To date, Great Western holds 93.1% of Rareco, having progressively increased its holding in the company, which owns the Steenkampskraal rare earth mine in South Africa, since last year.

In late November, Great Western, which at the time held nearly 21% of Rareco, announced that it intended to make an all-cash offer to purchase all of the shares it did not already hold at a price of 3 South African Rand per share, or US$0.43.

"Moving to acquire 100% of Rareco furthers our company's ability to execute its fast track schedule for the Steenkampskraal property," said president and CEO Jim Engdahl. 

"In conjunction with the recent approval from the National Nuclear Regulator of South Africa for Great Western's work program at Steenkampskraal, our company is in a very strong position to continue its rapid advancement, having executed the steps to acquire Rareco, right on schedule," he added.

In April, Great Western announced that it has fast-tracked its development plans for Steenkampskraal, now targeting the start of underground mining operations in the first quarter of 2012.

The company has also nearly doubled the planned level of production at the site to approximately 5,000 tonnes of rare earth oxides (REO) per year, up from the 2,700 tonnes originally anticipated.

Great Western intends to immediately begin the refurbishment of the previously-producing mine shaft at the Steenkampskraal site.

The company's specialty rare earth alloys are used in the battery, magnet and aerospace industries. The company also holds interests in seven rare earth exploration and development properties in North America.