Perth Rare Earth Companies Shine Bright in the 'City of Light'
Rare Metal Blog
Counting down the days to my trip to Perth, Australia for the 8th Annual Australian Uranium Conference where I will be providing an overview on the rare earth element (REEs) public markets.
Perth is Australia’s mining centre and though there are mining companies based in Sydney, Melbourne, Adelaide and Brisbane, the majority of mining companies are in Perth and specifically in the West Perth area. In 1962 Perth became known around the world as the ‘City of Light’ when its residents lit their streetlights and house lights as American astronaut John Glenn passed overhead in the Friendship 7 spacecraft while orbiting the earth. This act was again repeated in 1998 when John Glenn passed over Perth in the Space Shuttle.
So I thought it would be timely to highlight some of the rare earth companies with offices in the Perth area and do some research into the capital and largest city of Western Australia.
Here’s a quick overview of the rare earth companies in alphabetical order:
Alkane Resources Ltd. (ASX: ALK): With shares trading at $1.40 and a market capitalization of $376.6 million, Alkane engages in the mining exploration of zirconium, niobium, rare earths, gold and copper. Alkane’s principal project is the Dubbo Zirconia Project (DZP) located in the Central West of New South Wales is major resource of zirconium, hafnium, niobium, tantalum, yttrium and rare earths. A strategic advantage of this project, according to Alkane’s 2010 Annual Report is “the distribution of heavy rare earths, such as yttrium, in the project’s ore body which are in greater quantities compared to the standard distribution, with the DZP having 25 per cent versus 5 per cent. This is significant as heavy rare earths command higher than average returns compared to light rare earths.”
Arafura Resources Ltd. (ASX: ARU): With shares trading at $0.31 and market capitalization of $114.1 million, Arafura’s principal focus is the Nolans project which consists of the Nolans Bore mine located in Northern Territory, and the Whyalla Rare Earths complex located in South Australia. The rare earth deposit has sufficient resources to support mining and chemical processing operations for more than 20 years. A key aspect of this project is that annual production is reported to be 20,000 tonnes of rare earth oxides per year, equivalent to approximately 10% of the world’s supply. Compared with other light rare earth element (LREE) enriched projects of comparable scale around the world, Nolans Bore mine has a higher proportion of rare earths that feed key growth markets in magnets (neodymium, praseodymium, dysprosium) and phosphors (europium and yttrium).
Globe Metals & Mining Limited (ASX: GBE): With shares trading at $0.19 and a market capitalization of $41.4 million, Globe Metals engages in the exploration of mineral resource properties in Australia, Argentina and Africa with a primary focus on niobium, tantalum, rare earths and other commodities such as fluorite, uranium and zircon. Its flagship Kanyika Niobium Project in Malawi is currently undergoing a definitive feasibility study and is scheduled to commence production of ferro-niobium in 2015. Ferro-niobium is a key additive in sophisticated steels. Production is anticipated to be 3,000 tonnes per year of niobium metal or 4,500 tonnes per year of ferro-niobium. A 60 million tonne resource has been established, including a component to the measured status, in accordance with the Australian Stock Exchange Listing Rules’ Joint Ore Reserves Committee (JORC) standard.
Greenland Minerals & Energy Ltd. (ASX: GGG): With shares trading at $0.45 and a market capitalization of $187.4 million, Greenland Minerals primarily explores for uranium, zinc and rare earth elements. The principal property includes the Kvanefjeld project located near the southwest tip of Greenland and the area is called the Ilimaussaq Complex. A resource estimated dated March 2011 indicates a metal inventory of 6.6 million tonnes of rare earth oxides including 0.25 million tonnes of heavy rare earth oxides and 0.5 million tonnes of yttrium oxide; 350 million ponds of triuranium octoxide (U3O8) uranium compound; and 3 billion pound of zinc.
Lynas Corporation Ltd. (ASX: LYC): With shares trading at $1.06 and a market capitalization of $1.81 billion, Lynas’ Mount Weld project includes rare earth oxide deposits located to the south of Laverton, Western Australia. Lynas also operates a concentration plant in Mount Weld Western Australia and is close to opening an advanced materials processing facility in Malaysia. As announced in January 2012, the Mineral Resource estimate for Mount Weld is now 23.9 million tonnes, at an average grade of 7.9% rare earth oxide (REO), for a total of 1.9 million tonnes REO. This represents a 37% increase versus the previous Resource estimate from September 2010 and a 34% increase in contained REO.
Northern Minerals Limited (ASX: NTU): With shares trading at $0.42 and a market capitalization of 73.7 million, Northern Minerals’ leading project is Browns Range in Western Australia which is targeting production of heavy rare earth elements (HREEs) by 2015. This is a significant project as it features a number of prospects with high value HREEs in xenotime mineralization, including high grades of dysprosium and yttrium. Following positive drill and metallurgical testing results, the focus is on developing the project using a relatively simple and low cost processing flow sheet to produce a high grade HREE concentrate.
Peak Resources Ltd. (ASX: PEK): With shares trading at $0.36 and a market capitalization of $59.9 million, Peak explores for gold, nickel, copper, REEs and base metals. Its Ngualla Project located in the northwest of the city of Mbeya in southwest Tanzania has a high potential for rare earths, phosphate, niobium and tantalum. There is no previous drilling on this project. Peak commenced exploration of the carbonatite in late 2009 and has already completed surface sampling, mapping, an airborne geophysical survey and two significant phases of drilling. Peak continues to aggressively explore this area.
TUC Resources Ltd. (ASX: TUC): With shares trading at $0.19 and a market capitalization of $23.6 million, TUC primarily explores for rare earths, uranium, copper and gold. TUC holds about 16,000 square-kilometers of property across the Northern Territory of Australia. Mineralogical analysis of drill samples from its Stromberg site identified REE mineralization contained at least partially within the mineral xenotime, known for its excellent physical properties for recovery. Metallurgical testing of a composite drill sample from the Quantum Rare Earth prospect combining density and magnetic separation produced a 19% total rare earth oxide (TREO) concentrate grade. Further, the concentrate is heavily comprised of bastnasite, a mineral well understood in terms of extraction and processing.
There are additional Australian REE companies based in Sydney, East Brisbane and other regions that are also top of mind and there will be more to come on these…
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