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.
Frontier Rare Earths Limited is a mineral exploration and development company principally focused on the development of rare earths projects in Africa. Frontier’s flagship asset is the Zandkopsdrift rare earth project, which is located in the Northern Cape Province of South Africa and is one of the largest, highest grade undeveloped rare earth deposits worldwide. Frontier has a direct 64% interest and an 85% economic interest in Zandkopsdrift following the acquisition by its strategic partner; Korea Resources Corporation; of an initial 10% interest in Zandkopsdrift.
In June 2015 Frontier published a preliminary feasibility study (PFS) on Zandkopsdrift, the results of which indicate that the proposed development of Zandkopsdrift to produce a range of high purity, separated rare earths is both technically feasible and economically robust.
The PFS was conducted by a group of independent specialist consultants retained by Frontier to examine the technical, logistical, legal, environmental and economic aspects of the project. The specialist studies have been independently reviewed by Venmyn Deloitte (Proprietary) Limited (“Venmyn Deloitte”), a wholly owned subsidiary of Deloitte specialising in the technical and economic evaluation of mineral projects.
The majority of the engineering design work and capital and operating costs estimates for the PFS was prepared by a team of international engineering companies, including WorleyParsons RSA (Pty) Ltd (“WorleyParsons”), Veolia Water Solutions and Technologies South Africaq (Pty) Ltd (“Veolia”) and Outotec GmbH (“Outotec”).
Geology and History
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.
The Company has developed a very good understanding of the geology and controls on mineralisation at Zandkopsdrift and where a series of vertical to sub-vertical rare earth enriched dykes (“REDs”) intruded into a rare earth bearing carbonatitic phlogopite breccia (“CPB”). The CPB and REDs have undergone several stages of alteration and deep weathering resulting in the development of supergene enriched REE-bearing horizons from surface to 80 – 100 m in depth.
Mineral Reserve Estimate
An updated mineral resource estimate (the “2014 Mineral Resource estimate”) was prepared by The MSA Group (“MSA”) and has been utilised for the purposes of the PFS. The 2014 Resource Estimate incorporates a dataset of 19,130 assays a total of 21,037m of drilling over 323 drill holes.
Frontier’s exploration programmes were independently designed, monitored and managed by MSA and a set of industry standard operating procedures was adopted, which ensured best practice and the integrity of the data. Industry standard practices were followed and the quality of the Frontier database meets NI 43-101 standards and Canadian Institute of Mining and Metallurgy best practice guidelines.
The 2014 Mineral Resource estimate was independently reviewed by Venmyn Deloitte who is satisfied that the 2014 Mineral Resource estimate is globally unbiased and fairly reflects the deposit. The geological and mineralisation model is sufficiently understood at this stage to permit the generation of distinct mineralised envelopes. Lithologies within the mineralised envelope were not modelled and a TREO grade-only approach was adopted and a 1% TREO cut-off grade was applied.
|Zandkopsdrift 2014 Mineral Resource Estimate|
|TREO CUT-OFF GRADE (% )||TONNAGE (Mt)||GRADE TREO (%)||GRADE MnO (%)||CONTAINED TREO (kt)||CONTAINED MnO (kt)|
|Measured Mineral Resource|
|Indicated Mineral Resource|
|Inferred Mineral Resource|
Mineral Resources reported in compliance with NI 43-101
Mineral Resources reported inclusive of Mineral Reserves
NI 43-101 requires the statement that “Mineral Resources that are not Mineral Reserves do not have demonstrated economic viability”. However, it must be noted that 89% of the Mineral Resources have been converted to Mineral Reserves
Cut-off grade 1% TREO and no mineralisation width applicable
The Mineral Resource cut-off grade of 1.0% TREO was calculated based on the economic analysis and assumptions contained in the report entitled “Amended Independent Technical Report on the Results of a Preliminary Economic Assessment of Frontier Rare Earth’s Zandkopsdrift Rare Earth Project Located in the Northern Cape Province of South Africa”, dated 30 March 2012 (the “PEA Report”), which is available on SEDAR at www.sedar.com.
In situ estimation with no geological losses estimated
Density 1.94g/cm3 to 1.88g/cm3
Any apparent discrepancies in totals are due to rounding
Frontier has an effective economic interest of 85%
The effective date of the 2014 Mineral Resource Estimate is 31 July 2014
A breakdown of the TREO grades into individual REO grades is set out in the table below
|Breakdown of 2014 Mineral Resource Estimate by element|
|RARE EARTH ELEMENT||OXIDE||MEASURED MINERAL RESOURCES||INDICATED MINERAL RESOURCES||INFERRED MINERAL RESOURCES|
|REO GRADE (%)||Contained REO (kt)||REO GRADE (%)||Contained REO (kt)||REO GRADE (%)||Contained REO (kt)|
Mineral Reserve Estimate
The conversion of the 2014 Mineral Resource estimate to Mineral Reserves was independently undertaken by Sound Mining, and represents a maiden Mineral Reserve estimate for Zandkopsdrift.
The 2014 Mineral Reserve Estimate is set out below and represents an overall conversion rate from Measured and Indicated Mineral Resources to Mineral Reserves of 91%. The 2014 Mineral Reserve Estimate takes into consideration several factors including the removal of inferred Mineral Resources from the 2014 Mineral Resource Estimate, mining losses, dilution, the calculation of mineral reserves based on mineral resources within the designed pit as detailed in the PFS and the removal of year 46 from the mining schedule.
|Zandkopsdrift 2014 Mineral Reserve Estimate|
|MINERAL RESERVE CLASSIFICATION||TONNAGE (Mt)||TREO GRADE (%)||CONTAINED TREO (kt)||CONTAINED MnO (kt)|
Excludes Inferred Mineral Resources
Excludes final year LoM production
Estimate is based on a fully diluted, delivered to plant model
Any apparent discrepancies in totals are due to rounding
Modifications to the Mineral Resource estimate guided by cut-off grade of 1% TREO
The Mineral Reserve cut-off grade of 1.0% TREO was calculated based on a TREO basket price of USD42.52/kg recovered TREO and estimated metallurgical recovery of 66.4% (the metallurgical recovery estimate was made before the final PFS metallurgical recovery estimate of 70.6% was available)
Overall mining conversion rate of Measured & Indicated Mineral Resources to Mineral Reserves of 91%
The effective date of the 2014 Mineral Reserve Estimate is 30 September 2014
A breakdown of the TREO grade into individual REO grades is provided in the table below
|Breakdown of 2014 Mineral Reserve Estimate by element|
|RARE EARTH ELEMENT||OXIDE||PROVEN MINERAL RESERVES||PROBABLE MINERAL RESERVES|
|REO GRADE (%)||ContainedREO (Kt)||REO GRADE (%)||Contained REO (Kt)|