Shares of Great Western Minerals Group (CVE:GWG) jumped Monday after the rare earths processor released an updated NI 43-101 compliant resource estimate at its past-producing Steenkampskraal property in South Africa, as the company works to become a fully integrated rare earths producer.
Its stock climbed more than 10% to trade at 32 cents just before noon in Toronto.
The updated report shows a significant increase in the mineral resource, both in the indicated and inferred categories, over the company's prior resource released last May, Great Western said.
The latest document, prepared by Snowden Mining Industry Consultants, shows a mineral resource of 32,000 metric tonnes of total rare earth oxides plus yttrium oxide (TREO) under the indicated category, and another 42,100 metric tonnes under the inferred category. Both categories used a 1% TREO cut-off grade.
This means indicated resources rose by more than double from the resource estimate last May, while inferred resources more than tripled.
"The substantial increase in TREO tonnage from this Resource Estimate update significantly improves the economic potential of the Steenkampskraal Monazite Project," said new president and CEO of Great Western, Marc LeVier, who took the helm earlier this month.
"The resource update reported today will be incorporated into the Preliminary Economic Assessment that is being prepared concurrently. We expect the Steenkampskraal analysis will be bolstered further with the upcoming addition of a minimum of 55 drillholes for which assay work is currently in progress."
Indeed, drilling continues at Steenkampskraal with the aim of expanding the resource estimate even further, boosting confidence in the geological model, and upgrading the categories of the reported resources.
The program will also seek to provide technical data for mine planning, and to check for mineralization in those areas of the property where the concentrator and other infrastructure facilities will be located. The results of another 55 completed drill holes are pending, and will be reported in a future update, the company said.
The latest resource reflects increased drilling along strike to the east, with the additional drilling since May providing more density measurements.
Aside from LeVier's appointment, the company has announced a series of management additions and changes in recent weeks in preparation for a new stage in the life of the company, as it aims to become a fully integrated rare earth producer.
Last week, it appointed Lenard Boggio to its board of directors, coming just days after the rare earths processor announced the long-awaited appointment of LeVier to the position of president and CEO.
LeVier's appointment also came immediately after the company announced that it added mining veteran Ron Hochstein to its board of directors. New board member Hochstein has served as the president, CEO and a director of Denison Mines Corp. (TSE:DML) for the past three years.
These high profile appointments are expected to see the company through its major transition.
Currently, Great Western is a rare earth processor, whose specialty alloys are used in the magnet, battery, defence and aerospace industries. Produced at the company’s subsidiaries Less Common Metals (LCM) in Birkenhead, U.K. and Great Western Technologies (GWT) in Troy, Michigan, these alloys contain aluminum, nickel, cobalt and rare earth elements (REE).
Its development program at Steenkampskraal is central to ensure a strong flow of feedstock for its downstream processing - the company intends 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 holds 100 per cent of Rare Earth Extraction Co. Limited, which owns a 74-per-cent equity stake in the Steenkampskraal mine. It also holds interests in four rare earth exploration and development properties in North America.
Its former producing Steenkampskraal rare earth mine is under development through refurbishment, as Great Western also builds a rare earth mixed chloride plant and a rare earth solvent extraction separation plant near the mine.
The aim of the preliminary economic report is to further develop operational and financial projections based on an independent analysis of the mining of rare earth-bearing monazite, extraction to mixed chloride, the separation of oxides and metal and alloy production.
The company is expecting to release the results of the PEA this month, after extending the original scope of the report to include this latest resource estimate.
The Steenkampskraal mineralization vein has been traced for a strike-length of just over 1,050 metres, Great Western noted, with the resource estimate covering a strike length of about 920 metres. Mineralization is open for expansion on strike in both directions, it added, and down dip, below a depth of 130 metres.
So far, analysis has shown that the vein is composed primarily of the mineral monazite, which makes up more than 91% of total rare earth elements.