Western Cape Business News

Send  Share  RSS  Twitter  27 Sep 2011

MINING: Big Plans For Cape Rare Earth


Recent Western Cape Business News

CANADIAN mining group Great Western Minerals (GWM) – with a bit of help from its Chinese partner - is aiming for the first commercial production of rare earth minerals at its Steenkampskraal Mine in 2013.

Last month GWM hauled in a Chinese partner to build a rare earth separation plant at the long dormant Steenkampskraal Mine, which is situated about 70km from Vanrhynsdorp.

GWM confirmed recently that Ganzhou Qiandong Rare Earth Group of China would be part of a new joint venture company that would be 75% owned by GWM and 25% by Ganzhou.

The joint venture company, Great Western GQD Rare Earth Materials, will be responsible for the design, manufacture, construction, commissioning and operation of the planned separation facility.

The separation plant will be fed with Rare Earth chloride that GWM produces at the Steenkampskraal monazite mine and feedstock from sources in the region.

CBN readers will remember that earlier this year GWM took full control of the Steenkamps-kraal Mine after buying out shareholders in Somerset West-based mining company Rare Earth Extraction Company (Rareco).

Rareco, despite initially clinching a promising silica order with glass giant Consol, ran into trouble in 2001 and operations have lain dormant ever since.

News of the separation plant – the cost of which has not yet been detailed – confirms that Rareco’s Steenkampskraal mine is still regarded as highly viable.

The initial production forecasts will certainly be keenly anticipated, and it seems observers won’t have too long to wait for tangible evidence of the potential at Steenkamps-kraal.

GWM president and CEO Jim Engdahl says GQD’s experience in the rare earth industry will ensure that the new facility will be at the cutting edge of solvent extraction processing.

GWM’s team of metallurgists will be working closely with those from GQD to finalise process and plant design in order to commence construction of this plant early in 2012.”

Engdahl estimated delivery of separated Rare Earth oxides and metals by the beginning of 2013.

A further sign of GWM’s determination to secure production within the next two years was the appointment in August of former Richards Bay Minerals executive, John Selby, as ‘monazite/radiation/environmental consultant at Steenkamps-kraal.

Selby will advise GWM on the processing of additional monazite streams to be used as feedstock in the rare earth processing and separation facilities in and around Steenkampskraal.

Engdahl notes: “Being able to attract a team member with the experience and expertise of John Selby ensures our continued and thorough compliance with the terms of the National Nuclear Regulator of South Africa in conjunction with a focus on increasing the amount of monazite feedstock for our rare earth processing operations.”

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