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.
In 2010 the Company focused on developing the Zandkopsdrift deposit and on completion of the 43-101 compliant independent technical report in October 2010 sought a listing on the Toronto Stock Exchange to raise funds to allow for the further development of the deposit. In March 2012 the Company completed a preliminary economic assessment on Zandkopsdrift which confirmed the technical and economic viability of the project. The Company is currently at an advanced stage of preparation of a preliminary feasibility study (PFS) which is expected to be completed in H1 2015 and following which a definitive feasibility study will be initiated.
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.
The Zandkopsdrift rare earths deposit indicates a large, high confidence resource estimate (c.950k tonnes TREO) with c.80% of the contained total rare earth oxides (“TREO”) at the Indicated Resource level. With the final phase of resource drilling (14,200 meters) at Zandkopsdrift completed, this will advance the majority of the resource into the Measured and Indicated categories, and the preliminary feasibility study (PFS) will convert such resources to Proven and Probable reserves.
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 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.
*Breakdown of TREO grade by distribution of individual element is as follows: La2O3 (25.37 %), Ce2O3 (44.06 %), Pr2O3 (4.62 %), Nd2O3 (15.88 %), Sm2O3 (2.27 %), Eu2O3 (0.59%), Gd2O3 (1.42 %), Tb2O3 (0.17 %), Dy2O3 (0.78 %), Ho2O3 (0.13%), Er2O3 (0.32%), Tm2O3 (0.04 %), Yb2O3 (0.22 %), Lu2O3 (0.03%), Y2O3 (4.12 %)