Afrikaans Division of European Knights Project – again: Thanks EKP and directors for this opportunity.
Is there a possible link between our farm attacks / rapes / murders and the most important minerals, Rare Earth Elements (REE) in South Africa? Who knows really exactly , but if so, why? But that is possible!!!!
>>>>>> Look at the REE in South Africa, only a few to mention at this stage <<<<<<
SO MUCH MONEY AND WHAT DEALS ARE THERE FOR THE REAL CITIZENS OF SOUTH AFRICA? WHAT ABOUT EMPLOYMENT?
&&&&&&&& TAKE NOTE OF THE THOUSANDS OF “HACTARES OF LAND”
With CHINA on the horizon – good luck to all Afrikaners, Boers and Whites – AND the millions and millions of black ethnic South Africans on the Trustlands as well as the millions and millions of immigrants from Africa … and also the new property ownership legislation next year …. more about that later …..
>>>>>> Who is the leader on Rare Earth Elements? <<<<<< CHINA
THE REE BUSINESS IN SOUTH AFRICA
The legislation listed here have bearing on the subject: 2005
The National Environmental Management Act, No 107 of 1998 (NEMA);
The Environmental Conservation Act, No 73 of 1989;
The Physical Planning Act, No 125 of 1991;
The Land Use Planning Ordinance, No 15 of 1985 (LUPO);
The Conservation of Agricultural Resources Act, No 43 of 1983;
The Water Act, No 54 of 1956;
The Precious Stones Act, No 73 of 1964;
The Strategic Mineral Resources Development Act, No 88 of 1964;
The Mining Titles Registration Act, No 16 of 1967;
The Mining Rights Act, No 20 of 1967;
The Mineral Laws Supplementary Act, No 10 of 1975;
The Minerals Act, No. 50 of 1991; and,
Mineral and Petroleum Resources Development Act, No 28 of 2002.
Presently Unexploited Deposits with Potential & Resource Areas According to the Council for Geosience, the following deposits have the potential to be exploited. 14 projects were selected in South Africa, of which four were located in the Western Cape. The four projects were ranked 8th (marble – Farm Widouw 309, 12km south of Vanrhynsdorp), 9th (glass sand – Farm Elandsfontein 349, 8km west of Hopefield), 10th (plastic clay – farm Zouterivier 22, 10km east and Klipvlei 28, 18km ESE of Atlantis) and 16th (diamonds – from Donkin’s Bay to Tieties Bay along the West Coast). Although problems such as current mineral rights holdings, environmental issues and transport/infrastructure have largely been ignored in the selection process, the possible development of these projects should be investigated (Council for Geoscience).
i) Rare earths and rare metals
The Steenkampskraal mine near Vanrhynsdorp, which in the past produced rare earth elements and thorium is to be re-opened shortly. The niobium and thorium-bearing Salpeterkop in the Surtherland District is also under consideration, as rare metals become more sought after with improved technology.
A substantial but subeconomic skarn deposit associated with a pluton of the Cape Granite Suite is present in the subsurface at Riviera, near Piketberg.
Limited resources in sub-economic, low-grade uranium-molybdenum deposits, occur in sandstones of the Beaufort Group, northeast of Laingsburg, and continue into the Northern Cape and Eastern Cape
FROM AMERICA 2013
Some Members of Congress have expressed concern over U.S. acquisition of rare earth materials composed of rare earth elements (REE) used in various components of defense weapon systems. Rare earth elements consist of 17 elements on the periodic table, including 15 elements beginning with atomic number 57 (lanthanum) and extending through number 71 (lutetium), as well as two other elements having similar properties (yttrium and scandium). These are referred to as “rare” because although relatively abundant in total quantity, they appear in low concentrations in the earth’s crust and extraction and processing is both difficult and costly.
From the 1960’s to the 1980’s, the United States was the leader in global rare earth production. Since then, production has shifted almost entirely to China, in part due to lower labor costs and lower environmental standards. Some estimates are that China now produces about 90- 95% of the world’s rare earth oxides and is the majority producer of the world’s two strongest magnets, samarium cobalt (SmCo) and neodymium iron boron (NeFeB) permanent, rare earth magnets. In the United States, Molycorp, a Mountain Pass, CA mining company, recently announced the purchase of Neo Material Technologies. Neo Material Technologies makes specialty materials from rare earths at factories based in China and Thailand. Molycorp also announced the start of its new heavy rare earth production facilities, Project Phoenix, which will process rare earth oxides from ore mined from the Mountain Pass facilities.
In 2010, a series of events and press reports highlighted what some referred to as the rare earth “crisis.” Some policymakers were concerned that China had cut its rare earth exports and appeared to be restricting the world’s access to rare earths, with a nearly total U.S. dependence on China for rare earth elements, including oxides, phosphors, metals, alloys, and magnets. Additionally, some policymakers had expressed growing concern that the United States had lost its domestic capacity to produce strategic and critical materials, and its implications for U.S. national security.
Pursuant to Section 843, the Ike Skelton National Defense Authorization Act for FY2011 (P.L. 111-383) and S.Rept. 111-201 (accompanying S. 3454), Congress had mandated that the Secretary of Defense conduct an assessment of rare earth supply chain issues and develop a plan to address any vulnerabilities. DOD was required to assess which rare earths met the following criteria:
(1) the rare earth material was critical to the production, sustainment, or operation of significant U.S. military equipment; and
(2) the rare earth material was subject to interruption of supply, based on actions or events outside the control of the U.S. government. The seven-page report was issued in March 2012.
The Great Western Mineral Group (GWMG) will form a joint venture with China’s Ganzhau Qiandong Rare Earth Group to build an oxide separation facility in South Africa. The raw material for the separation facility will be produced at GWMG’s SKK mine in South Africa. A feasibility study of the project is underway. Frontier Rare Earths, based in Luxemburg, along with Korea Resources Corp. formed a joint venture to build a separation facility also in South Africa. Frontier Rare Earths owns the nonproducing rare earth Zondkopsdrift mine in South Africa.
SOUTH AFRICA, AMERICA, CHINA AND OTHER COUNTRIES WITH RARE EARTH ELEMENTS (REE)
High-technology and environmental applications of the rare earth elements (REE) have grown dramatically in diversity and importance over the past four decades. As many of these applications are highly specific, in that substitutes for the REE are inferior or unknown, the REE have acquired a level of technological significance much greater than expected from their relative obscurity. Although actually more abundant than many familiar industrial metals, the REE have much less tendency to become concentrated in exploitable ore deposits. Consequently, most of the world’s supply comes from only a few sources. The United States once was largely self-sufficient in REE, but in the past decade has become dependent upon imports from China. The rare earth elements (REE) form the largest chemically coherent group in the periodic table. Though generally unfamiliar, the REE are essential for many hundreds of applications. The versatility and specificity of the REE has given them a level of technological, environmental, and economic importance considerably greater than might be expected from their relative obscurity. The United States once was largely self-sufficient in these critical materials, but over the past decade has become dependent upon imports. In 1999 and 2000, more than 90% of REE required by U.S. industry came from deposits in China.
China has warned in 2012 that the decline in its rare earth reserves in major mining areas is “accelerating”, as most of the original resources are depleted. In a policy paper, China’s cabinet blamed excessive exploitation and illegal mining for the decline. China accounts for more than 90% of the world’s rare earth supplies, but has just 23% of global reserves. It has urged those with reserves to boost production of the elements, which are used to make electrical goods. “After more than 50 years of excessive mining, China’s rare earth reserves have kept declining and the years of guaranteed rare earth supply have been reducing,” China’s cabinet said in the paper on the rare earth industry published by the official Xinhua news agency. But China has imposed export quotas on these elements. It says it has done so to prevent excessive mining of these elements, which also causes damage to the environment. The US, Japan, and the European Union have called the quotas illegal and dragged Beijing to the World Trade Organization (WTO) over the matter….
WHAT IS REE?
AND IS IT REALLY IMPORTANT TO THE WORLD? YES INDEED.
SOUTH AFRICAN PROJECT HOSTS THE HIGHEST GRADE OF RARE EARTHS DEPOSIT OUTSIDE CHINA
Zandkopsdrift rare earth project comprises an area of approximately 60,000ha in the Namaqualand region of the Northern Cape Province, of the Republic of South Africa and includes the Zandkopsdrift rare earth deposit.
The project is very well situated in that it is approximately 450km north of Cape Town, 300km north of the deep water port of Saldanha Bay, and 35km to the nearest railhead at Bitterfontein.
The Zandkopsdrift deposit comprises a carbonate-rich, magmatic rock deposit containing significant rare earth element bearing mineralization within outcropping and near surface, deeply weathered phases. The Zandkopsdrift carbonatite is exposed as a well-defined, outcropping hill, approximately 40m above a surrounding plain. Zandkopsdrift has been the subject of a number of geological, mineralogical and metallurgical investigations from the 1950s onwards. Most of the original prior work was carried out by Anglo American in two phases over a six-year period, including during the 1980s, when the rare earth potential of Zandkopsdrift was investigated. All of the available rare earth related data from Anglo American ™ work, which included extensive drilling, bulk sampling, metallurgical testing and related analyses, as well as Anglo American ™ original cores, pulps and other samples, were acquired by Frontier(> **) in 2008. These data and samples have been validated by independent geological consultants, MSA, and, combined with data from work carried out by the Company, have allowed MSA to produce a CIM compliant resource estimate and a NI 43-101 compliant independent technical report on Zandkopsdrift. Frontier has since completed an extensive phase of exploration at Zandkopsdrift including the drilling of 313 boreholes for a total 21,037 meters and more than 19,000 individual chemical assays undertaken.
The main rare earth bearing minerals of monazite and crandallite and the mineralization styles at Zandkopsdrift are similar to other rare earth deposits being evaluated and developed globally, most notably Lynas Corporation’s Mount Weld deposit in Australia. The highest value heavy rare earth oxides, namely europium, terbium and dysprosium, are contained at elevated levels at Zandkopsdrift compared to several other deposits being evaluated elsewhere. In addition, the levels of thorium (178ppm) and uranium (47ppm) in the Zandkopsdrift deposit are relatively low, which compares favorably to many of the more advanced rare earth projects worldwide and reduces the potential environmental implications that would arise in the event of mine development being undertaken at Zandkopsdrift.
2012 – The directors of Frontier Rare Earths Ltd (“Frontier”) requested that Venmyn Rand (Pty) Ltd (“Venmyn”) prepare an independent Canadian National Instrument 43-101 Technical Report and Valuation Statement (ITR) on the results of a Preliminary Economic Assessment (PEA) of the Zandkopsdrift Rare Earth Element Project (“Zandkopsdrift Project” or the “Project”), located in the Namaqualand region of the Northern Cape Province of South Africa. Frontier is a Toronto Stock Exchange (“TSX”) (TSX:FRO)(TSX: FRO.WT) listed mineral exploration and development company focused exclusively on the development of rare earth element (“REE”) projects in Africa.
NOTE: Frontier is registered in the British Virgin Islands and is resident in Luxembourg (> Annexure **1).
Frontier holds a 74% shareholding in Sedex Minerals (Pty) Ltd.
(“Sedex”), a South African incorporated company that holds a prospecting right for the area that contains the Zandkopsdrift carbonatite. The remaining 26% of Sedex is held by Historically Disadvantaged South Africans (“HDSAs”), as required under South African Black Economic Empowerment (“BEE”) requirements. The shareholders’ agreement between Frontier and the HDSA shareholders gives Frontier a current effective economic interest of 95% in the Zandkopsdrift Prospecting Right until completion of a Definitive Feasibility Study (“DFS”) and the receipt by Frontier from the HDSA shareholders of payments required under the shareholders’ agreement.
Property Description (NI 1) :
The Zandkopsdrift Project comprises three separate but integral components, namely:-
1. an open cast mine and processing plant on the REE enriched Zandkopsdrift carbonatite, located southwest of the town Garies, in the Northern Cape Province of South Africa. The mine, processing plant (the “Process Plant”) and associated infrastructure have collectively been named the Zandkopsdrift Mine and the property comprising the Prospecting Right on which the Zandkopsdrift Mine will be located, is termed the Zandkopsdrift Prospect, for the purposes of the PEA. A desalination plant (the “Desalination Plant”), located southwest of the town of Kotzesrus on the west coast of South Africa, will supply process water to the Zandkopsdrift Mine;
2. a finance, technology, trading, sales and marketing company registered outside of South Africa (“Tradeco”), which will source finance and technical expertise for the development and operation of a REE separation plant, arrange long term off-take agreements for the REE products produced
by the separation plant and provide general sales and marketing services; and
3. a REE separation plant located at Saldanha Bay (the “Saldanha Separation Plant”), which will toll treat the REE product supplied by Tradeco from the Zandkopsdrift Mine and, potentially, other rare earth mines that may be developed by Frontier. The mixed REE carbonate produced at Zandkopsdrift Mine will be transported by road 302km to the Saldanha Separation Plant.
Ownership (NI 1)
The Zandkopsdrift Prospect comprises Prospecting Right 869/2007 over a total area of over 58,862ha in the extreme southwest portion of the Northern Cape Province, directly on the boundary with the Western Cape Province. The Prospecting Right is held by Sedex and exploration on the Prospecting Right is carried out on behalf of Sedex by Frontier’s South African operating company, Frontier Rare Earths SA (Pty) Ltd. Sedex plans to mine the REE deposit and beneficiate the run of mine (“RoM”) material to produce mixed rare earth carbonates (“MREC”). The proposed Saldanha Separation Plant will be operated through Odvest 196 (Pty) Ltd (“Sepco”). Tradeco will purchase the MREC from Sedex and engage Sepco to undertake the separation of the MREC into individual separated rare earth oxides (“SREO”). The Desalination Plant will operate through a subsidiary of Sedex, namely Desco (K201100451 SA (Pty) Ltd).
The Zandkopsdrift Prospecting Right was granted by the South African Department of Mineral Resources (“DMR”) to Sedex for a period of 5 years, until 4th September 2012 and covers all minerals other than diamonds, kaolin and heavy minerals. The Prospecting Right was issued over several farms and farm portions, including the farm Zandkopsdrift 357 Portion (Ptn) 2, which is known as the farm Pan Vlei and is owned by Sedex, on which the Zandkopsdrift carbonatite is located.
In terms of the Mineral and Petroleum Resources Development Act 28 of 2002 (“MPRDA”), Sedex has the right to renew the Prospecting Right for an additional three years, subject to compliance with the requirements for renewal set out in the MPRDA. Sedex will retain its Prospecting Right if it maintains its HDSA status and adheres to the exploration programme submitted with the original Prospecting Right application, which requirement has already been satisfied by the exploration conducted to date. The MPRDA provides that a prospecting right in respect of which a renewal application has been lodged prior to expiry is deemed to continue to exist post expiry until a decision has been made in respect of the renewal application. An application for renewal of the Zandkopsdrift Prospecting Right was made to the DMR in February 2012, and an application for a Mining Right
over the Zandkopsdrift carbonatite and proposed mine site is expected to be made on or before completion of the PFS later in 2012.
Sedex, as the holder of the Prospecting Right, is entitled to all rights set out in Section 5(3) of the MPRDA, which permits it to prospect, use the surface and to bring plant, property and equipment onto site for prospecting purposes. Furthermore, with regards to the proposed site of the Zandkopsdrift Mine on the farm Pan Vlei, Sedex is also the owner of the surface rights. Independent legal opinion confirms that there is no litigation or potential
litigation which could affect the surface rights of Sedex within the Prospecting Right.
Material Agreements (NI 1)
Sedex has complied with the HDSA equity ownership requirements as laid down by the South African Mining Charter and MPRDA, through shareholder agreements with HDSA individuals and entities that together hold 26% of the issued share capital of Sedex. The Sedex HDSA shareholding comprises a 21% shareholding owned by the Namaqualand Empowerment Trust, a broad-based community trust established for the benefit of HDSAs in the Namaqualand region where Frontier principally operates and 5% by Mr Martin van Zyl (collectively the “BEE
Frontier announced on the 5th December 2011 that it had concluded a definitive agreement with the Korea Resources Corporation (“KORES”), a Korean Government-owned mining and natural resource investment company, to form a strategic partnership designed to accelerate the development of the Zandkopsdrift Project.
KORES will form and lead a consortium of Korean industrial and corporate groups (the “KORES Consortium”) to partner with Frontier in the development of the Zandkopsdrift Project. The definitive agreement involves an investment in the Zandkopsdrift Project and, potentially, in Frontier, with an off-take arrangement that could commit up to 31% of the future production, contingent upon the completion of a positive DFS
(**1) : 2012 SEPTEMBER REPORT:
Frontier Rare Earths Limited (“Frontier”) is a Luxembourg headquartered, exploration and development company incorporated in 2002 with the objective of developing a portfolio of mineral exploration projects in South Africa and which is now exclusively focused on Rare Earth Elements (REEs) in Southern Africa.
Frontier’s principal asset is the Zandkopsdrift REE Deposit in the Namaqualand region of the Northern Cape Province, South Africa’s longest established mining region. Zandkopsdrift is believed to be one of the largest known rare earth resources outside of China classified under international resource reporting standards.
The Project was identified by Frontier in 2005 and for which the prospecting rights were secured in 2006. The prospecting right for Zandkopsdrift is held by Sedex Minerals, a South African company that is 74% owned by Frontier. In accordance with the relevant South African Black Economic Empowerment (BEE) legislation, 26% of SEDEX is held by BEE shareholders, with 21% owned by the Namaqualand Empowerment Trust, a broad-based community trust established by Frontier. However, the terms of the Sedex shareholder’s agreement give Frontier an effective 95% economic interest in Zandkopsdrift.
In March 2012, Frontier filed a positive NI 43-101 compliant Preliminary Economic Assessment (“PEA”), in which the Next Present Value (“NPV”) of the project was estimated to $ 3 billion with a capital cost, excluding contingencies of $ 910 million and a post tax IRR of 52.5%.
The PEA Report included a resource estimate for Zandkopsdrift of ca. 43 million tonnes at an average grade of 2.2% containing approximately 950,000 tonnes Total Rare Earth Oxide (”TREO”), applying a 1% cut-off and of which 76% is in the Indicated resource category. With a TREO resource of close to 1.0 million tonnes already estimated in place the resource at Zandkopsdrift is already considered by Frontier to be large enough to target supplying up to 20,000 tonnes per annum of separated REOs, which is broadly comparable to be one of the world’s largest rare earth projects outside
China currently under development, after Molycorp and Lynas.
A Pre-feasibility Study is scheduled for completion by the end of this year and a Definitive Feasibility Study is scheduled for the fourth quarter of 2013.
Frontier plans to commence production of separate REOs from Zandkopsdrift in the second half of 2015 at a rate of 20,000 tonnes per annum.
On July 11, 2012, Frontier announced that it had completed a definitive strategic partnership agreement with KORES for an initial 10% interest in Zandkopsdrift including off-take rights for 10% of the rare earths production by KORES, for a cash amount of Cdn$ 23.78 million. The investment is scheduled to be completed on 30 September 2012.
Zandkopsdrift has been the subject of a number of geological, mineralogical and metallurgical investigations from the 1950’s onwards.
A significant amount of work was carried out by Anglo American in two phases over a 6-year period, including during the mid-1980s when the rare earth potential of Zandkopsdrift was initially investigated. All of the available rare earth related data from Anglo American’s work, which included 3,400 metres drilling over 54 holes, bulk sampling (2,100 samples) metallurgical testing and related analysis, as well as Anglo American’s original cores, pulp and other samples, were acquired by Frontier in 2008 and integrated with the work undertaken by Frontier.
The Anglo American data and samples have since been validated by independent geological consultants MSA, and combined with data from more than 1,000 metres drilled over 13 holes and 3,420 samples assayed by the Company, having allowed MSA to produce a CIM compliant resource estimate and a NI 43- 101 compliant independent Technical Report on Zandkopsdrift.
The main rare earth bearing mineral at Zandkopsdrift is monazite and the mineralization styles and geological setting of Zandkopsdrift are similar to other rare earth deposits being evaluated and developed globally, but most notably Lynas’ Mount Weld deposit in Australia. The highest value heavy rare earth oxides, namely europium, terbium and dysprosium, are contained at elevated levels at Zandkopsdrift compared to several other deposits being evaluated elsewhere.
In addition, the low levels of thorium (225 ppm) and uranium (65 ppm) in the Zandkopsdrift Deposit both in absolute and relative terms , which compares favourably to many of the more advanced rare earth projects worldwide, reduces the potential environmental complications that would arise in the event of mine development being undertaken at Zandkopsdrift.
It is important to note that within the Zandkopsdrift ore body there are a series of higher grade zones that are considered of sufficient size to be exploited as discrete units within the deposit.
To date three zones have been identified and are referred to as A Zone, B Zone and C Zone in the left table and are defined by cut-off grades of 1.5%, 2.5% and 3.5% TREO respectively.
The B Zone is contained within the A Zone, and the C Zone contained within the B Zone. These zones will be the primary focus of further work at Zandkopsdrift but it is anticipated that Zandkopsdrift–B Zone, with an estimated 450,000 tonnes TREO (13.2 million tonnes grading 3.63% TREO), in situ will be the focus of production for the first 12-15 years of mine life.
Preliminary Economic Assessment (“PEA”)
On March 13, 2012, Frontier announced the highlights of the PEA:
● Net Present Value (“NPV”) of $ 3.65 billion, after tax and royalties, at an 11% discount rate
● Internal rate of return “IRR”) of 52.5%, after tax and royalties, and 2 year payback from start of production
● Average production of 20,000 tonnes of separated rare earth oxides (“REO”) per annum, generating average annual revenues of $ 1.1 billion and an estimated operating margin of 78%.
● Twenty year mine life, supported by the mining and processing of 19.5 million tonnes of material with an average in-situ grade of 3.12% total REO (“TREO”) at an average metallurgical recovery of 67%.
● Capital costs of $ 910 million for a 1 million tonne per annum open-pit mining operation and concentration and rare earth separation plant facilities.
● Rare earth oxide “basket price” of $ 58.23/kg used for Zandkopsdrift production, based on an average of three-year China Free on Board average REO prices and Roskill’s mid-point 2015 REI forecasts applied for Zandkopsdrift’s in-situ REO relative distribution.
● Estimated average operating costs of $ 13.09/kg of separated REOs
● Conventional metallurgical process, comprising comminution, flotation, sulphuric acid cracking and solvent extraction.
● Potential for life of mine to be extended beyond initial 20 years, as the PEA mine plan only exploits circa 60% of the current estimated TREO resource at Zandkopsdrift.
● Pre-feasibility study (“PFS”) under way, with completion scheduled for the fourth quarter 2012.
Frontier’s current cash resources of approximately $ 38 million are expected to be sufficient to complete the PFS at an estimated cost of $ 7.5 million, and to complete a Definitive Feasibility Study (“DFS”) in the third quarter of 2013.
Zandkopsdrift hosts one of the largest and highest rade known rare earths depositions outside China.
The resource estimate is NI 43-101 compliant and presented in accordance with CIM definitions The mineral resource estimates reflect 100% of the estimated resources at Zandkopsdrift. Frontier’s 64% owned subsidiary, Sedex, has complied with the BEE equity ownership requirements as laid down by the Mining Charter and the Minerals and Petroleum Resources Development Act 28 of 200 ( MPRDA ), through shareholder agreements with historically disadvantaged South African individuals and entities that together hold the remaining 26% of the issued share capital of Sedex. In addition to Frontier’s direct interest in the Zandkopsdrift Project through its 64% shareholding in Sedex, Frontier shall also be entitled to, in consideration for Frontier’s funding of the BEE Shareholders’ share of Sedex’s expenditure on the Zandkopsdrift Project up to bankable feasibility stage, a payment from certain of the BEE Shareholders following the completion of the bankable feasibility study equal to 21% of the then valuation of the Zandkopsdrift Project. This gives Frontier an effective 85% interest in the Zandkopsdrift Project until such payment has been received.
During 2012 it was stated that the Frontier Rare Earths’ Zandkopsdrift hosts one of the largest and highest grade known rare earths deposits outside China and could be on stream by mid-2015. It has KORES deal to help achieve this.
One of the largest known rare earth resources outside of China classified under international resource reporting standards could well be in production by mid-2015. Frontier Rare Earth’s primary asset is the Zandkopsdrift project containing 950,000 t TREO (total rare earth oxides and includes the elements lanthanum to lutetium expressed as trivalent oxides). The Zandkopsdrift B Zone has the highest known TREO grade and the highest grade of high value HREOs of significant advanced deposits (those with >200,000 t TREO) outside of China.
Frontier plans to commence production of separated rare earths from Zandkopsdrift in 2015 at a rate of 20,000 t/y. There are probably some 500 RE projects globally but in all probability it’s only going to be about ten of them that become mines. Zandkopsdrift should be one of those successes. It has a number of advantages that single it out:
- It is large and high grade, but with low radioactivity – thorium averaging 178 ppm and uranium 47 ppm – (which will make permitting simpler and reduces environmental concerns)
- It will be a simple to mine surface deposit located near significant infrastructure
- Monazite is the principal host mineral which should simplify processing
- It will produce and sell the individual elements rather than an HREO (heavy rare earth oxides; high value HREOs are europium, terbium and dysprosium) concentrate
- It is positioned to be the answer to South Korea’s RE needs.
In December 2011 Frontier Rare Earths signed a definitive agreement with Korea Resources Corp (KORES), the Korean Government-owned mining and natural resource investment company, to form a strategic partnership designed to accelerate the development of Zandkopsdrift. KORES also announced its intention to form a consortium comprised of a number of leading Korean companies to join the Frontier joint venture, including Samsung Group, Hyundai Motors Group, GS Group, Daewoo Shipbuilding & Marine Engineering Group (DSME), and AJU Group.
“The signing of this definitive strategic partnership agreement is a compelling endorsement of Zandkopsdrift” said James Kenny, President and CEO of Frontier Rare Earths. “We are proud that the KORES together with a consortium of leading Korean companies, such as Hyundai Motors and Samsung, have identified Zandkopsdrift as a key source of future rare earth supply. The consortium companies have combined annual sales of approximately $300 billion, so their willingness to partner with Frontier is a strong statement about the economic potential of the Zandkopsdrift project, and the capabilities of our management team.”
Shin-Jong Kim, President and CEO of KORES said, “In order to support Korea’s high technology, automotive and other industries, the development of Zandkopsdrift will be a strategic priority project for the KORES Consortium and a critical element of KORES’ efforts to secure a long term, stable source of rare earth supply for Korean industry.”
Together with Frontier, the KORES Consortium will also investigate other rare earth related downstream businesses including rare earth metals, rare earth alloys and rare earth magnets.
The Zandkopsdrift project comprises an area of approximately 60,000 ha in the Namaqualand region of South Africa’s Northern Cape Province. It is well situated some 450 km north of Cape Town and 230 km north of the deep water port of Saldanha Bay. Access to and infrastructure surrounding Zandkopsdrift is generally excellent.
A Preliminary Economic Assessment (PEA) has just been completed and a prefeasibility study is under way, with completion expected by the end of the year. Highlights of the PEA include:
- NPV of $3.65 billion, after tax and royalties, at an 11% discount rate
- IRR of 52.5% , after tax and royalties, and two-year payback from start of production
- Average production of 20,000 t/y of separated REO, generating average annual revenues of $1.1 billion and an estimated operating margin of 78%
- 20-year mine life, supported by the mining and processing of 19.5 Mt of material with an average in-situ grade of 3.12% TREO and average metallurgical recovery of 67%
- Capital costs of $910 million for a 1 Mt/y open-pit mining operation and concentration and rare earth separation plant facilities
- Conventional metallurgical process, comprising comminution, flotation, sulphuric acid cracking and solvent extraction.
An REO ‘basket price’ of $58.23/kg has been used for Zandkopsdrift production, based on an average of three-year China Free on Board average REO prices and Roskill’s mid-point 2015 REO forecasts applied to Zandkopsdrift’s in situ REO relative distribution. The PEA estimated average operating costs at $13.09/kg of separated REOs.
There is potential for life of mine to be extended beyond the initial 20 years, as the PEA mine plan only exploits about 60% of the current estimated TREO resource at Zandkopsdrift.
“Frontier is now well-positioned to achieve our objective of becoming one of the first significant new producers of separated rare earths outside China by 2015,” said Kenny. “The results of our PEA demonstrate the economic attractiveness of our project, and we have a world-class partner in KORES. KORES intends to invest in Zandkopsdrift, provide technical and financial assistance, and secure off-take of up to 31% of Zandkopsdrift production.”
BACKGROUND ON REE
What are the rare earths? (REE)
The rare earth or lanthanide elements (REEs) are a group of 17 metals with unique properties composed of lanthanum, cerium, praseodymium, neodymium, samarium, europium, gadolinium, terbium, dysprosium, holmium, erbium, thulium, ytterbium, lutetium, and promethium. Scandium and yttrium are also sometimes included in this group in that they share many properties. They appear similar to the transition metals (silvery metallic), and find many diverse applications.
Despite their name, rare earths are actually abundant in the earth’s crust, though the extraction and refining process is complicated and costly. Rare earths are divided into two categories based on their weight and atomic numbers: Light rare earth elements (LREEs, or ceric rare earths) include lanthanum, cerium, praseodymium, promethium, neodymium and samarium, along with scandium; heavy rare earth elements (HREEs, or yttric rare earths) include europium, gadolinium, terbium, dysprosium, holmium, erbium, thulium, ytterbium, and lutetium, as well as yttrium. HREEs are more abundant than LREEs and more complex to mine.
South Africa has been planning since 1998 to start up production of monozite from the Steenkampskaal mine in the Western Cape province. Estimated reserves are 250,000 metric tons.
Where are the global locations of rare earths deposits?
A vast majority of the world’s producing reserves of rare earth minerals are located in Northern and Southern China, where American Elements operates a rare earth separations plant. In China, an oft quoted statement of former Communist leader Deng Xiao Ping is that “the Middle East has oil, and Baotou has rare earths.” 80% of Chinese production is concentrated in Northern China (Baotou, Inner Mongolia), which yields light rare earth elements; proven bastnazite reserves in the north have been estimated to be 48 million metric tons, with prospective reserves estimated to be another 120 million metric tons. In the south, heavy rare earths are mined from ion adsorption clays located in the provinces of Jiangxi and Guangdong.
Outside of China, other rare earth deposits are located in the United States (bastnazite), Australia (monazite, carbonatites, and and xenotime), India and South Africa, Kazakhstan, Uzbekistan and Ukraine (ioparite and apatite), Canada (apatite and allamite). Historically, most of these regions have not exploited their reserves; this is increasingly no longer the case, for reasons discussed further below.
How are the rare earths produced?
Elemental rare earths are produced through the separation of certain rare earth oxide (REO)-bearing minerals, including bastnazite, monazite and ionic clays. Mined bastnazite is processed to a rare earth concentrate, which is separated by solvent extraction into individual rare earth chlorides or nitrates depending on the system. These rare earth chloride or nitrate concentrates are subsequently refined to a variety of rare earth compounds such as oxides, carbonates and fluorides. Rare Earth metal is produced through the thermic reduction of that element’s oxide or fluoride powder.
Rare Earths are a series of 15 chemically similar elements that occur and are recovered together consisting of two distinct categories based on atomic weight: Light Rare Earths (LREOs) and Heavy Rare Earths (HREOs)
Critical Rare Earths Oxide (CREO) grade is a better metric to benchmark Rare Earth projects.
Each element has a range of distinctive physical properties which allow them to be used in a variety of technological applications – Magnetic, optical, electrical, catalytic and metallurgical.
Lanthanum is the first element in the rare earth or lanthanide series. It is the model for all the other trivalent rare earths. After cerium, it is the second most abundant of the rare earths. Lanthanum is available as metal and compounds with purities from 99% to 99.999% (ACS grade toultra high purity); metals in the form of foil, sputtering target, and rod, and compounds as submicron and nanopowder.Lanthanum-rich lanthanide compositions have been used extensively for cracking reactions in FCC catalysts, especially to manufacture low-octane fuel for heavy crude oil. Lantahanum is found in monazite and bastnasite. The name Lanthanum originates from the Greek word Lanthaneia which means ‘To lie hidden’. It is utilized in green phosphors based on the aluminate (La0.4Ce0.45Tb0.15)PO4. Lanthanide zirconates and lanthanum strontium manganites are used for their catalytic and conductivity properties and lanthanum stabilized zirconia has useful electrical and mechanical properties. Lanthanum’s ability to bind with phosphates in water creates numerous uses in water treatment. It is utilized in laser crystals based on the yttrium-lanthanum-fluoride (YLF) composition.
Cerium is the most abundant of the rare earths. It is characterized chemically by having two valence states , the +3 cerous and +4 ceric states. Cerium is available as metal and compounds with purities from 99% to 99.999% (ACS grade to ultra high purity); metals in the form of foil, sputtering target, and rod, and compounds as submicron and nanopowder. The ceric state is the only non-trivalent rare earth ion stable in aqueous solutions.It is, therefore, strongly acidic and moderately toxic. It is also a strong oxidizer.The cerous state closely resembles the other trivalent rare earths. The numerous commercial applications for cerium include metallurgy, glass and glass polishing, ceramics, catalysts, and in phosphors. In steel manufacturing it is used to remove free oxygen and sulfur by forming stable oxysulfides and by tying up undesirable trace elements, such as lead andantimony. It is considered to be the most efficient glass polishing agent for precision optical polishing. It is also used to decolor glass by keeping iron in its ferrous state. The ability of cerium-doped glass to block out ultra violet light is utilized in the manufacturing of medical glassware and aerospace windows. It is also used to prevent polymers from darkening in sunlight and to suppress discoloration of television glass. It is applied to optical components to improve performance. Cerium is also used in a variety of ceramics, including dental compositions and as a phase stabilizer in zirconia-based products. Ceria plays several catalytic roles. In catalytic converters it acts as a stabilizer for the high surface area alumina, as a promoter of the water-gas shift reaction, as an oxygen storage component and as an enhancer of the NOX reduction capability of Rhodium. Cerium is added to the dominant catalyst for the production of styrene from ethylbenezene to improve styrene formation. It is used in FCC catalysts containing zeolites to provide both catalytic reactivity in the reactor and thermal stability in the regenerator.
Praseodymium resembles the typical trivalent rare earths, however, it will exhibit a +4 state when stabilized in a zirconia host. Praseodymium is available as metal and compounds with purities from 99% to 99.999% (ACS grade to ultra-high purity); metals in the form of foil, sputtering target, and rod, and compounds as submicron and nanopowder. The element is found in most all light rare earth derivatives. It is highly valued in glass and ceramic production as a bright yellow pigment because of its optimum reflectance at 560 nm. Much research is being done on its optical properties for use in amplification of telecommunication systems, including as a doping agent in fluoride fibers. Praseodymium doped zirconia is a potential cathode for low temperature Solid Oxide Fuel Cell applications. It is also used in the scintillator for medical CAT scans.
Neodymium is the most abundant of the rare earths after cerium and lanthanum. Neodymium is available as metal and compounds with purities from 99% to 99.999% (ACS grade to ultra-high purity); metals in the form of foil, sputtering target, and rod, and compounds assubmicron and nanopowder. Neodymium is a Block F, Group 3, Period 6 element. The number of electrons in each of Neodymium’s shells is 2, 8, 18, 22, 8, 2 and its electronic configuration is [Xe] 4f4 6s2. In its elemental form neodymium’s CAS number is 7440-00-8. The neodymium atom has a radius of 181.4.pm and it’s Van der Waals radius is 181.pm. Neodymium is the most abundant of the rare earths after cerium and lanthanum. Neodymium is available as metal and compounds with purities from 99% to 99.999% (ACS grade to ultra-high purity); metals in the form of foil, sputtering target, and rod, and compounds as submicron and nanopowder. Primary applications include lasers, glass coloring and tinting, dielectrics and, most importantly, as the fundamental basis for neodymium-iron-boron permanent magnets. Neodymium has a strong absorption band centered at 580 nm, which is very close to the human eye’s maximum level of sensitivity making it useful in protective lenses for welding goggles. It is also used in CRT displays to enhance contrast between reds and greens and highly valued in glass manufacturing for its attractive purple coloring. Neodymium is included in many formulations of barium titanate, used as dielectric coatings and in multi-layer capacitors essential to electronic equipment. Neodymium is found in monazite and bastnäsite ores. Neodymium was first discovered by Carl Aer von Welsbach in 1885. Neodymium is found in monazite and bastnäsite ores. Neodymium was first discovered by Carl Aer von Welsbach in 1885. It is also used in CRT displays to enhance contrast between reds and greens and highly valued in glassmanufacturing for its attractive purple coloring. Neodymium is included in many formulations of barium titanate, used as dielectric coatings and in multi-layer capacitors essential to electronic equipment.
Promethium is a Block F, Group 3, Period 6 element. The number of electrons in each of Promethium’s shells is 2, 8, 18, 23, 8, 2 and its electronic configuration is [Xe] 4f5 6s2. In its elemental form promethium’s CAS number is 7440-12-2. The promethium atom has a radius of 183.4.pm and it’s Van der Waals radius is 200.pm.
Samarium is primarily utilized in the production of samarium-cobalt (Sm2Co17) permanent magnets. Samarium is available as metal and compounds with purities from 99% to 99.999% (ACS grade to ultra-high purity); metals in the form of foil, sputtering target, and rod, and compounds as submicron and nanopowder. It is also used in laser applications and for its dielectric properties. Samarium-cobalt magnets replaced the more expensive platinum–cobalt magnets in the early 1970s. While now overshadowed by the less expensive neodymium–iron–boron magnet, they are still valued for their ability to function at high temperatures. They are utilized in lightweight electronic equipment where size or space is a limiting factor and where functionality at high temperature is a concern. Applications include electronic watches, aeospace equipment, microwave technology and servomotors. Because of its weak spectral absorption band samarium is used in the filter glass on Nd:YAG solid state lasers to surround the laser rod to improve efficiency by absorbing stray emissions. Samarium forms stable titanate compounds with useful dielectric properties suitable for coatings and in capacitors at microwave frequencies.
Europium is utilized primarily for its unique luminescent behavior. Europium is available as metal and compounds with purities from 99% to 99.999% (ACS grade to ultra-high purity); metals in the form of foil, sputtering target, and rod, and compounds as submicron and nanopowder. Excitation of the Europium atom by absorption of ultra violet radiation can result in specific energy level transitions within the atom creating an emission of visible radiation.In energy efficient fluorescent lighting, Europium provides not only the necessary red, but also the blue. Several commercial blue phosphors are based on Europium. Its luminesence is also valuable in medical, surgical and biochemical applications.
Gadolinium is utilized for both its high magnetic moment (7.94µB) and in phosphors and scintillator material. When complexed with EDTA ligands, it is used as an injectable contrast agent for patients undergoing magnetic resonance imaging. Gadolinium is available as metal and compounds with purities from 99% to 99.999% (ACS grade to ultra-high purity); metals in the form of foil, sputtering target, and rod, and compounds as submicron and nanopowder. With its high magnetic moment, gadolinium can reduce relaxation times and thereby enhance signal intensity. The extra stable half-full 4f electron shell with no low lying energy levels creates applications as an inert phosphor host. Gadolinium can therefore act as hosts for x-ray cassettes and in scintillator materials for computer tomography.
Terbium is primarily used in phosphors, particularly in fluorescent lamps and as the high intensity green emitter used in projection televisions, such as the yttrium-aluminum-garnet (Tb:YAG) variety. Terbium is available as metal and compounds with purities from 99% to 99.999% (ACS grade to ultra-high purity); metals in the form of foil, sputtering target, and rod, and compounds as submicron and nanopowder. Terbium responds efficiently in x-ray excitation and is, therefore, used as an x-ray phosphor. Terbium alloys are also used in magneto-optic recording films, such as Tb-Fe-Co.
Dysprosium is most commonly used in neodymium-iron-boron high strength permanent magnets. Dysprosium is available as metal and compounds with purities from 99% to 99.999% (ACS grade to ultra-high purity); metals in the form of foil, sputtering target, and rod, and compounds as submicron and nanopowder. While it has one of the highest magnetic moments of any of the rare earths (10.6µB), this has not resulted in an ability to perform on its own as a practical alternative to neodymium compositions. It is however now an essential additive in NdFeB production. It is also used in special ceramic compositions based on BaTiO formulations. Recent research has examined the use of dysprosium in dysprosium-iron-garnet (DyIG) and silicon implanted with dysprosium and holmium to form donor centers. Dysprosium is added to various advanced opticalformulations due to the fact that it emits in the 470-500 and 570-600 nm wavelengths.
Holmium has the highest magnetic moment (10.6µB) of any naturally occurring element. Because of this it has been used to create the highest known magnetic fields by placing it within high strength magnets as a pole piece or magnetic flux concentrator. This magnetic property also has value in yttrium-iron-garnet (YIG) lasers for microwave equipment. Holmium is available as metal and compounds with purities from 99% to 99.999% (ACS grade to ultra-high purity); metals in the form of foil, sputtering target, and rod, and compounds as submicron and nanopowder. Holmium lases at a human eye safe 2.08 microns allowing its use in a variety of medical and dental applications in both yttrium-aluminum-garnet (YAG) and yttrium-lanthanum-fluoride (YLF) solid state lasers. The wavelength allows for use in silica fibers designed for shorter wavelengths while still providing the cutting strength of longer wave length equipment.
Erbium has application in glass coloring, as an amplifier in fiber optics, and in lasers for medical and dental use. Erbium is available as metaland compounds with purities from 99% to 99.999% (ACS grade to ultra-high purity); metals in the form of foil, sputtering target, and rod, and compounds as submicron and nanopowder. The ion has a very narrow absorption band coloring erbium salts pink. It is therefore used in eyeware and decorative glassware. It can neutralize discoloring impurities such as ferric ions and produce a neutral gray shade. It is used in a variety of glass products for this purpose. It is particularly useful as an amplifier for fiber optic data transfer. Erbium lases at the wavelength required to provide an efficient optical method of amplification, 1.55 microns. Lasers based on Er:YAG are ideally suited for surgical applications because of its ability to deliver energy without thermal build-up in tissue.
Thulium is representative of the other lanthanides (rare earths) similar in chemistry to Yttrium. Thulium is available as metal and compounds with purities from 99% to 99.999% (ACS grade to ultra-high purity); metals in the form of foil, sputtering target, and rod, and compounds assubmicron and nanopowder. Tm emits blue upon excitation. Flat panel screens depend critically on bright blue emitters. Also, under X-ray bombardment emissions are in both the 375 nm (ultra violet) and 465 (visible blue) wave lengths. This gives the material useful applications in low radiation detection for detection badges and similar uses. It is also used in other luminescence applications, such as halide discharge lamps. Flat panel screens depend critically on bright blue emitters.
Ytterbium is being applied to numerous fiber amplifier and fiber optic technologies and in various lasing applications. Ytterbium is found in monazite sand as well as the ores euxenite and xenotime and is available as metal and compounds with purities from 99% to 99.999% (ACS grade to ultra-high purity); metals in the form of foil, sputtering target, and rod, and compounds as submicron and nanopowder. It has a single dominant absorption band at 985 in the infra-red making it useful in silicon photocells to directly convert radiant energy to electricity. Ytterbium metal increases its electrical resistance when subjected to very high stresses. This property is used in stress gauges for monitoring ground deformations from earthquakes and nuclear explosions. It is also used in thermal barrier system bond coatings on nickel, iron and other transitional metal alloy substrates. The name Ytterbium originates after the name for the Swedish village of Ytterby.
Lutetium is the last member of the rare earth series. Lutetium is available as metal and compounds with purities from 99% to 99.999% (ACS grade to ultra-high purity); metals in the form of foil, sputtering target, and rod, and compounds as submicron and nanopowder. Unlike most rare earths it lacks a magnetic moment. It also has the smallest metallic radius of any rare earth. It is perhaps the least naturally abundant of the lanthanides. It is the ideal host for x-ray phosphors because it produces the densest known white material, lutetium tantalate (LuTaO4). It is utilized as a dopant in matching lattice parameters of certain substrate garnet crystals, such as indium-gallium-garnet (IGG) crystals due its lack of a magnetic moment.
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