WEST PERTH, AUSTRALIA--(Marketwire - Sep 28, 2012) - Peak Resources Limited (Peak) (ASX: PEK) (OTCQX: PKRLY) (PINKSHEETS: PKRLY), the developer of a potentially low cost, long term rare earth project in Tanzania, today provided an update on the Scoping Study ("the Study") at its 100%-owned Ngualla rare earth project ("the project"). The project remains on budget and on track for completion in December 2012.
Ngualla is the world's fifth largest rare earth deposit outside of China and the highest grade of the top seven.
- New drill results from the southern part of the deposit include the highest grade intersection of the project to date:
||420m @ 7.86% REO
*REO = Total Rare Earth Oxide
- The Scoping Study ("Study') is on budget and on track for completion in December 2012.
- The Study will include a preliminary economic assessment of the rare earth project.
- Preparations are advanced to produce a series of five higher value purified rare earth oxide products using a solvent extraction process. These products are in addition or as a value add alternative to the 50% REO mixed carbonate concentrate successfully demonstrated in August.
- The study will include estimates for an offsite solvent extraction (SX) separation plant to produce a range of higher value, high purity rare earth products.
- The base case of the Study is 10,000 tons of REO equivalent from 300,000t of ore per annum.
- Peak has commenced discussions with a number of interested parties regarding potential off take agreements.
Peak Resources Managing Director Richard Beazley stated, "I am pleased to report the rapid progress being made with the Scoping Study and that drill results have produced the highest grades to date. Completion of the Scoping Study will keep us on track to be a low cost producer by 2016. The results of the Study will also help provide assurance and attract interested parties for off take agreements or partnerships."
Peak commenced the Ngualla Project Scoping Study in May 2012 with the appointment of engineer Lucas Stanfield as Chief Development Officer, Perth based Emerson Stewart Consulting Group as infrastructure and environmental engineering consultants, Hatch as process engineering consultants and Orelogy Pty Ltd as mining consultants to the Study. The Study is to determine the optimum pathway to rare earth production and provide a preliminary economic assessment of the Project.
The base case for the Study assumes a range of rare earth products containing a total of 10,000 tons of REO equivalent will be produced from an estimated 300,000 tons of ore at an average grade of approximately 4.3% REO annually over an initial mine life of 25 years. The Mineral Resource has potential to support a significant increase to this base case production rate should off take customers for additional product be secured.
The positive results from the 'Proof of Concept' sulphuric acid leach process has now led the Study to identify that the optimum approach for Ngualla is to focus initial production from the highest grade, near surface weathered bastnaesite mineralization within the core of the Southern Rare Earth Zone, and processing via the sulphuric acid and precipitation route into a mixed, cerium depleted rare earth carbonate concentrate.
The Study will also include estimates for an offsite solvent extraction (SX) separation plant to produce a range of higher value, high purity rare earth products.
The Scoping Study is progressing well with a number of site visits completed including communication with Tanzanian Government Departments, potential suppliers, consultants and contractors and is on track for completion on schedule and budget in December 2012.
Drilling is continuing on site to infill this area of the SREZ targeted for first production. The program will provide the detailed data and samples required to support the metallurgical test work above and feasibility studies due to commence in 2013.
New assay results from an additional 11 drill holes completed in the southern part of the SREZ (Figure 2) have been received and include the highest grade intersection returned to date:
||42m at 7.86% REO*
*REO = Total Rare Earth Oxide
This high grade interval calculated at +4% REO lower grade cut is included within a wider +1% REO interval of 95m at 5.44% REO from surface. The drill hole (NRC220) ended in weathered mineralization grading 8.02% REO at 113m.
Other new intersections include:
||46m at 4.24% REO
||49m at 4.09% REO
||100m at 3.32% REO
||120m at 3.35% REO
||from surface to end of hole
||32m at 4.60% REO
Results to date continue to be encouraging, with numerous intersections confirming the continuity and consistency of high grade rare earth mineralization from surface over substantial widths within deeply weathered carbonatite. Drilling will be completed before the rains commence at the end of November.
Additional exploration drilling was initially planned for 2012 to investigate the Northern Zone, where extensive areas of niobium - tantalum, phosphate and rare earth mineralization were identified by two wide spaced reconnaissance drill traverses in 2011. This drilling has been postponed to the 2013 field season to allow for the identification of a suitable beneficiation and metallurgical processing route for this second style of mineralization at Ngualla. It also allows the Company to direct funds and resources towards the rapid development of the SREZ.
The Company will continue to provide regular updates regarding the progress of the SREZ drilling and assay results as they are received. An updated Mineral Resource estimate will be completed according to the JORC Code and Guidelines by the end of the first quarter 2013.
Off take Partners
The Company has commenced discussions with a number of interested parties regarding potential off take agreements for rare earth concentrate products from Ngualla. Several organizations have expressed interest during early stage discussions. The Company will keep the market informed of developments.
In early August 2012 Peak announced it had successfully demonstrated a simple metallurgical flow sheet resulting in a high grade, high purity rare earth carbonate product from samples of weathered bastnaesite mineralization from the SREZ (Figure 1). A simple sulphuric acid leaching process on a composite sample returned an overall process recovery of 87% and a high grade (50.3% REO), high purity rare earth carbonate product containing just 7ppm uranium and 12ppm thorium.
These highly encouraging results support the Company's view that this near surface, high grade style of mineralization within the larger Ngualla Deposit holds the best potential for the initial and rapid development of a low cost rare earth mine. The Company is completing further metallurgical test work to further optimize the rare earth recovery, whilst minimizing sulphuric acid and other reagent consumption. This work is generating valuable data for the current Scoping Study and future project feasibility studies.
A 1.6 ton bulk composite sample of rare earth mineralization from the bastnaesite core of the SREZ has been dispatched from site to Australia. This will be processed via the established flow sheet to provide feed stock for the next phase of test work - separation via solvent extraction (SX) into five high purity concentrate products:
Didymium Oxide (praseodymium and neodymium)
SEG Oxide (samarium, europium and gadolinium)
Heavy Rare Earth Oxide (residual HREO including yttrium)
The successful production of these five high purity rare earth oxide products will provide the company with further benefits to the mixed carbonate concentrate already produced in terms of product value and available markets. Work is expected to commence on this SX program in October 2012 and be completed in first quarter of 2013.
Sufficient quantities of each of the five purified products, as well as a mixed rare earth carbonate, will be manufactured for assessment by potential off take partners.
An additional five tons of weathered bastnaesite mineralization will be dispatched to Australian test laboratories in November, before the end of the current field season, as feed material for a sulphuric acid leach pilot plant. The pilot plant will provide detailed engineering data for input into project feasibility studies as well as demonstrating the robustness of the process over extended periods of operation. Design of the pilot plant will commence in October with commissioning scheduled for the second quarter of 2013.
A metallurgical variability test program is currently in progress on a further 111 samples. This will further verify and quantify the leach efficiency of the selected sulphuric acid process from a range of mineralogical styles across the SREZ. The results, expected in October 2012, will allow a predictive geometallurgical model to be constructed based on geology and assay results. Previous samples of weathered mineralization from within the central bastnaesite zone, which extends over a 750m x 700m area, returned an average of 87% leach extraction.
The Company has an accelerated development schedule for Ngualla compared to many other rare earth projects with first production of rare earth concentrate product planned for early 2016. Key indicative milestones include:
|Completion of Scoping Study
|Updated Mineral Resource estimate
|Construction of pilot plant
|Commence Pre-Feasibility Study
|Commence Definitive Feasibility Study
|Commence mine and processing plant construction
Safe Harbor Statement
The information in this document has been prepared as at July 18th, 2012. Certain statements contained in this document constitute "forward-looking statements" within the meaning of the United States Private Securities Litigation Reform Act of 1995 and forward looking information under the provisions of Canadian provincial securities laws. When used in this document, the words "anticipate", "expect", "estimate", "forecast", "will", "planned", and similar expressions are intended to identify forward-looking statements or information.
Such statements include without limitation: statements regarding timing and amounts of capital expenditures and other assumptions; estimates of future reserves, resources, mineral production, optimization efforts and sales; estimates of mine life; estimates of future internal rates of return, mining costs, cash costs, minesite costs and other expenses; estimates of future capital expenditures and other cash needs, and expectations as to the funding thereof; statements and information as to the projected development of certain ore deposits, including estimates of exploration, development and production and other capital costs, and estimates of the timing of such exploration, development and production or decisions with respect to such exploration, development and production; estimates of reserves and resources, and statements and information regarding anticipated future exploration; the anticipated timing of events with respect to the Company's minesites and statements and information regarding the sufficiency of the Company's cash resources. Such statements and information reflect the Company's views as at the date of this document and are subject to certain risks, uncertainties and assumptions, and undue reliance should not be placed on such statements and information. Many factors, known and unknown could cause the actual results to be materially different from those expressed or implied by such forward looking statements and information. Such risks include, but are not limited to: the volatility of prices of gold and other metals; uncertainty of mineral reserves, mineral resources, mineral grades and mineral recovery estimates; uncertainty of future production, capital expenditures, and other costs; currency fluctuations; financing of additional capital requirements; cost of exploration and development programs; mining risks; community protests; risks associated with foreign operations; governmental and environmental regulation; the volatility of the Company's stock price; and risks associated with the Company's by-product metal derivative strategies. For a more detailed discussion of such risks and other factors that may affect the Company's ability to achieve the expectations set forth in the forward-looking statements contained in this document, see the Company's Annual Report on Form 20-F for the year ended December 31, 2011, as well as the Company's other filings with the Canadian Securities Administrators and the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission. The Company does not intend, and does not assume any obligation, to update these forward-looking statements and information. Marc Legault, a Qualified Person and the Company's Vice-President, Project Development, reviewed the technical information disclosed herein. For a detailed breakdown of the Company's reserve and resource position see the July 18th, 2012 press release on the Company's website. That press release also lists the Qualified Persons for each project.
About Peak Resources
Peak is developing the Ngualla Project, a potentially low-cost, long term rare earth project located in south west Tanzania. Ngualla has been ranked as the fifth largest deposit in the world outside China, and the highest grade of the top seven.
Ngualla has a Mineral Resource of 170 million tonnes grading 2.24% of rare earth oxides (REO). Within the resource there is a highly weathered and near-surface zone estimated at 40 million tonnes at 4.07% REO, equivalent to 1.6 million tonnes of contained REO (see Table 1 below for resource classifications). Ngualla is also a bulk deposit which is largely outcropping. These attributes place the project among the world's most notable rare earth discoveries of recent years.
Ngualla is a potential low cost open pit mine due to its shallow outcropping high grade mineralisation. The initial sighter metallurgical test work to date has been completed using a sulphuric acid leach process route suggesting a relatively less complex, potentially cheaper capital outlay and shorter time to production.