Shares of Great Western Minerals Group (CVE:GWG) moved higher Monday, after the rare earths processor announced a 9,400-metre, 65-hole diamond drilling program at its past-producing Steenkampskraal property in South Africa, where the company now has five drill rigs operating onsite.
Its stock climbed 1.41% to trade at 36 cents just before 2 p.m. EDT, in Toronto.
The company said its objectives include step-out drilling to investigate the extension of the main monazite zone along strike east and west, and down-dip of the known mineral resource.
Great Western last week released an updated NI 43-101 compliant resource estimate at Steenkampskraal, prepared by Snowden Mining Industry Consultants, which showed 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.
Indicated resources rose by more than double from the resource estimate last May, while inferred resources more than tripled.
With its new drilling program, Great Western said it will also do infill drilling on areas of lower data density in order to upgrade inferred mineral resources to the indicated category, and selected orientated core drilling in support of planned underground developments.
In addition to the drilling, the company said it has initiated exploration activities on the surrounding prospecting right - a 550.5 square kilometre area encompassing Steenkampskraal, and hosting historic occurrences of monazite at surface.
Aside from appointing Marc LeVier to the position of president and CEO, Great Western 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.
Earlier this month, 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 company is expecting to release the results of the preliminary economic assessment this month, after extending the original scope of the report to include its latest resource estimate.