Today, Great Western Minerals Group ( ‘Great Western’ or the Company, CVE: GWG) has filed a NI 43-101 resource estimate for the Steenkampskraal Rare Earth mine in South Africa. The report has indicated an estimate of 45,500 tons with 22.3% total rare earth oxides (TREO – and including Yttrium), 21.46% light rare earth oxides (LREO) and 0.86% heavy rare earth oxides (HREO). The inferred category shows 86,000 tons grading at 15.7% TREO, 15.14% LREO and 0.61% HREO. Great Western also published estimates related to two tailings dams, the Upper showing an indicated resource of 8,030 tons at 8.92% TREO, 8.55% LREO and 0.37% HREO and the inferred showing 1,160 tonnes grading 7.15% TREO, 6.84% LREO and 0.31% HREO. The Lower Tailings Dam presented an indicated resource of 28,560 tons at 8.37% TREO, 8.01% LREO and 0.36% HREO. Great Western is very pleased by the results, which demonstrate that the Steenkampskraal Project has fulfilled met the Great Western’s expectations at the time of acquisition to the extent that the project will be one of the main drivers its future growth. The favorable results will also allow the Company to release funds to continue exploratory drilling, which promises to deliver an increased resource base.
The Steenkampskraal project fits within Great Western’s reputation as one of the most vertically integrated companies in the rare earths sector. The Company has ventures in politically stable environments covering exploration (six projects in North America and one in South Africa), mining and processing. Great Western has also cultivated important relationships in China such that in 2010, the Company established a joint venture agreement with Ganzhou Qiandong Rare Earth Group. The exploration side is complemented by two specialty alloy manufacturers supplying the aerospace, battery and magnet sectors. The Steenkampskraal resource will also provide raw material to the development of the Company’s processing units. Great Western is one of the few truly integrated companies in the REE field outside of China and its new South African project enhances this aspect.
The Chinese government’s consolidation and tighter supply of the REE industry, which has stimulated the re-opening of REE mines and exploration outside of China, have contributed greatly to investors’ interest in this sector. However, there is always the lingering awareness that China, which is to REE what Saudi Arabia is to oil, could decide to reverse its policy (not that there is any chance of that now) and flood the market with cheap rare metals. Great Western’s proposition is that it helps to meet the current demand for the rare earths while also controlling rare earth deposits in more than one continent. The Company has also become one of the leading players in downstream processing REE ores into the specialty alloys that the end users require. Certainly, as far as investors are concerned, Great West Minerals’s success in the downstream business offers an additional assurance of revenue generation that other emerging junior players cannot match.