PERTH, WESTERN AUSTRALIA--(Marketwire - Mar 26, 2013) - Greenland Minerals and Energy Ltd's (GGG.AX)(GDLNF) 100% owned Kvanefjeld multi-element project contains one of the world's largest undeveloped resources of rare earth metals and uranium (JORC-code compliant), and is ideally located near the southern tip of Greenland. Feasibility studies are well advanced and demonstrate Kvanefjeld's potential to be developed as a long term, low-cost uranium supply, and a large low-cost supplier of both heavy and light rare earth oxides (REOs).
GMEL is now focussed on a staged development strategy with an initial mine-throughput of 3Mtpa, expanding to 6Mtpa. There are two main steps in the processing of Kvanefjeld ores; a concentrator stage, and a refining stage. The Company has completed the testwork program for the concentrator stage with two successful pilot pant campaigns, and has now finalised a Mine and Concentrator Study.
Key Outcomes of the Mine and Concentrator Study:
|•||The mine and concentrator (flotation circuit) will produce a high-grade REE-uranium mineral concentrate, along with zinc (6,180tpa) and fluorspar by-products (8,865tpa)|
|•||The REE-uranium mineral concentrate containing 14% total REO and 0.24% U3O8 will then be treated in a dedicated refinery to produce 23,000tpa of high purity mixed rare earth hydroxide, and 1.1 Mlbs U3O8|
|•||Significantly reduced capital costs:|
|•||Overall start-up costs are now estimated at $810M|
|•||The mine and concentrator capable of treating 3Mtpa is anticipated to cost $450M|
|•||The refinery to produce marketable REE and U products is estimated to cost $360M|
|•||Unit costs of production are low; less than US$6.40/kg TREO (after by-product credits) which will make Kvanefjeld one of the lowest cost REE producers worldwide.|
|•||Upon mine expansion from 3.0 Mtpa to 6.0 Mtpa, the unit cost of TREO production drops to less than US$4.90/kg TREO (after by-product credits)|
|•||The incremental cost of recovering the uranium is less than US$37/lb U3O8. Following expansion to 6Mtpa the uranium unit production costs drop to less than US$31/lb U3O8. This will make Kvanefjeld one of the lowest cost uranium producers amongst projects that are being considered for development in the next 5-10 years.|
|•||The initial 3Mtpa Project generates a pre-tax, ungeared internal rate of return of 32% and a cash payback period of 3 years, based on long term prices of US$70/lb U3O8 and US$23/kg TREO*. The pre-tax NPV is US$1,913 M.|
|(*assumes 60% value recognition in concentrate for a basket price of US$37.80)|
The Kvanefjeld multi-element project is ideally located in southern Greenland with direct year-round shipping access and an international airport nearby. The project is centred on the highly prospective northern Ilimaussaq Complex. To date approximately less than 20% of the prospective area has been evaluated with drill programs already unearthing a multi-element resource base of 956Mt (JORC-code compliant).
Importantly, the Company has rigorously developed a simple, highly effective process flow sheet for Kvanefjeld that presents the opportunity to develop a cost-competitive, long life and readily scalable poly-metallic mining operation. This provides the foundation for Kvanefjeld to be a cornerstone of future rare earth supply, as well as being an important source of uranium.
GMEL released a prefeasibility study on Kvanefjeld in May 2012 that presented a technically sound and economically robust mining project. Subsequent test work has continued to optimise the flowsheet, enhance metal recoveries and improve the economic metrics (Technical Update, August 2012). The process flowsheet developed for Kvanefjeld is technically advantageous in its relative simplicity. The concentrator circuit delivers a very high upgrade ratio using a single methodology, and also produces marketable zinc and fluorspar by-products. A refinery circuit then effectively extracts REEs and uranium from the mineral concentrate utilising a conventional atmospheric acid leach circuit to produce marketable rare earth and uranium products. Of significance is that the REE-U rich minerals at Kvanefjeld are non-refractory and do not require complex and costly, high temperature 'mineral cracking' that many RE-producing operations require.
The technical development for Kvanefjeld is now significantly de-risked. Test work for the concentrator circuit is complete, with two highly successful pilot plant operations. Continuous test work programs for the refining circuit have been completed, with patent applications lodged for the refining methodology developed by GMEL's technical team.
GMEL's recent focus has looked to identify the optimal means of implementing the Kvanefjeld project. As announced on February 28th, 2013, the Company has firmed up an initial start-up capacity of 3Mtpa, with a subsequent expansion to 6Mtpa, which mitigates both market and financing risk. In addition, the Company is evaluating the establishment of a dedicated refinery offshore. Investigations are currently underway into potential locations for a refinery, and discussions are advancing with potential partners interested in participating in establishing the refinery.
At 6Mtpa, Kvanefjeld will be a significant uranium producer, and one of the largest and lowest cost producers of rare earth concentrates. Notably Kvanefjeld will have significant output of both the important light and heavy REEs, including neodymium, dysprosium, terbium and yttrium.
With the Mine and Concentrator Study component of the Feasibility Study completed the Company can now finalise the Environmental and Social Impact Assessment studies and prepare an application to the Greenlandic Government for an Exploitation Licence. In the current project schedule construction is targetted to commence in 2015, with first production in 2017. The Company looks forward to working in co-operation with the newly elected Greenlandic Government to reach a successful conclusion to the planning and approvals stage of the project development.
SEE FULL ASX Announcement on site: http://www.ggg.gl/docs/ASX-announcements/Mine-and-Concentrator-study.pdf.
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