Finishing up the presentations was Jim Engdahl, president and CEO
of Great Western Minerals Group (GWMG), who believes that GWMG is
on track to become one of the leading, fully integrated rare earth
Saskatoon-based GWMG focuses on three core components within its
integrated supply chain strategy - alloy processing, mining and
exploration. Indeed, the company combines upstream resource
exploration and extraction at its Steenkampskraal mine in South
Africa with downstream metals processing facilities in the US and
UK. Its specialty alloys are used in the battery, magnet and
Engdahl says that the Steenkampskraal mine is a unique project with
significant potential, as it holds nuclear authorization for the
handling of radioactive material, including the storage of
GWMG’s Steenkampskraal mine is located approximately 70 kilometres
north of the town of Vanrhynsdorp in the Western Cape Province of
South Africa, and approximately 350 kilometres north of Cape
In the course of putting the Steenkampskraal mine into production,
GMWG has been engaged in remediation of the mine site, cleaning up
contamination left from the period when Steenkampskraal was
operated as a monazite mining operation, producing monazite
concentrate which was then shipped elsewhere - mainly for thorium
The company's mining plan at Steenkampskraal includes working with
a joint venture partner that will provide technology and expertise
in the design, construction and operation of separation
It plans to complete the separation of the 15 rare earth elements
present into oxides at Steenkampskraal, and then ship selected
oxides to its own processing subsidiaries Great Western
Technologies (GWT) and Less Common Metals (LCM).
Engdahl says that GWMG expects a preliminary economic assessment
(PEA) by September, "with grades as high as 40 percent."
"We hope to complete and release the N143-101 in the next two
weeks," he says.
"We have also completed the joint venture [agreement] for the
extraction plant," says Engdahl, adding that final plant design is
expected in May.
The rare earth company, which eventually plans to be its own
supplier as well as creating a "supply certainty" for global
customers, has several operational targets, including the
construction of a mixed chloride plant and separation plant near
Steenkampskraal in the first half of 2013.
UK-based LCM, acquired in 2008, serves some of the world's largest
magnet manufacturers, many of whom in turn, supply the world's
largest automobile manufacturers.
As GWMG is intent on the development of metal-making capacity and
facilities, Engdahl says the company plans to expand LCM’s alloy
production capacity by 100 percent in 2012 and then, based on
industry demand, continue expansion.
"Once the facility in England is up and running we expect an annual
production of 33 to 35 tonnes of alloy per year," he says.
"It’s a small project that’s going to generate significant
GWMG’s alloy processing facility in Michigan, which was purchased
in 2006, is a strategic asset for revitalization and is "not a
money maker yet", adds Engdahl.