Great Western Minerals Group (CVE:GWG) (OTCQX:GWMGF), a rare earth-based metal alloys manufacturer that is developing its rare earth Steenkampskraal mine in South Africa, says it has delivered its high-purity yttrium oxide supply chain assessment report to the Department of Defense, which highlights the potential of the company's project.
In close coordination with major defense contractors, the company, according to its statement released late Thursday, found that military requirements from 2011 to 2015 for high-purity yttria are 40 to 50 tonnes per year higher than previous Department of Defense life-cycle sustainment estimates, and that there are processing gaps in the supply chain.
Yttrium oxide is used in a wide variety of ceramics and phosphors for military systems including thermal barrier coatings for jet engines, investment casting of titanium parts, night vision crystals and high-temperature superconductors.
"In addition to the growing magnitude of military requirements, our report concludes that newly-mined and recycled yttria in the United States will be unable to meet this requirement until about 2019," said Great Western presient and CEO, Marc LeVier.
"Considering the long-lived bottlenecks for raw yttrium production and yttria refining indicated by this work, the high-grade resource at Steenkampskraal once funded and producing is capable of delivering this critical material to military contractors."
Aside from the raw yttrium that Steenkampskraal will be able to produce, Great Western's alloys manufacturing units in the U.S. and U.K. also make specialty metal alloys that include nickel, cobalt, titanium, magnet, aluminum and yttrium.
Great Western is looking to vertically integrate by restarting its Steenkampskraal mine in South Africa, which will eventually provide the downstream feed for its manufacturing units. It has the Less Common Metals unit in the U.K., as well as one in Troy, Michigan.
The U.K.-based unit also recently completed the installation of its second strip casting furnace, which has increased production capacity by 700 tonnes to a total of 2,500 tonnes of metal alloys per year.