Peak Resources (ASX: PEK) is moving into the Scoping Study phase at its Ngualla Rare Earth Project in Tanzania with the appointment of Emerson Stewart Consulting Group Limited as the project manager for the study.
The Scoping Study will include a preliminary economic assessment for the development of the rare earth Resource in the Southern Rare Earth Zone and the South West Alluvial Zone into an economic operation.
The study will address the optimisation of the production stream in delivering rare earth products to customers.
A key component of the Scoping Study will be defining the specification of the end products that will be primarily influenced by the metallurgical process flow sheet and technical input from potential offtake customers.
Fundamental to the optimisation of the project will be the determination of the production rate for start-up operations, the market capacity, operating and capital costs and the available tonnes and grade from the resource.
The Scoping Study is scheduled for completion in December 2012.
Peak is scheduled to start its fourth phase of drilling since the start of exploration at Ngualla.
The extensive program, set to start this month, comprises 30,000 metres of reverse circulation drilling and 2,000 metres of diamond drilling on the Southern Rare Earth and Northern Zones.
This latest phase of drilling will include 15,000 metres of reverse circulation infill drilling in the Southern Rare Earth Zone to upgrade the Resource into the higher confidence Indicated and Measured categories.
Peak will also undertake 4,000 metres of resource extension drilling in the Southern Rare Earth Zone to test the north, south and depth of the resource.
Another 1,100 metres of reverse circulation drilling will be carried out on the Northern Niobium - Tantalum, Phosphate Zone to define a maiden Inferred Resource for this second style of mineralisation at Ngualla.
Finally, the 2,000 metres of diamond drilling in the Southern Rare Earth Zone and the Northern Niobium - Tantalum, Phosphate Zone will collect samples for metallurgical test work.
Peak has moved the Ngualla Rare Earth Project, which is already drawing comparisons to Lynas Corporations' (ASX: LYC) Mt Weld, forward rapidly over the last 19 months from discovery in August 2010 to the release of the maiden Resource in late February 2012.
From the Southern Rare Earth and South West Alluvial Zones the Resource is 170 million tonnes at 2.24% rare earth oxides for 3.8 million tonnes of contained rare earth oxides (1% lower grade cut-off).
Using a 3% lower grade cut-off, the total Resource includes a higher grade near surface zone of 40 million tonnes at 4.07% rare earth oxides for 1.6 million tonnes of contained rare earth oxides.
The Ngualla Project is scheduled to come on stream in early 2016.