TORONTO, March 13, 2012 /CNW/ - Frontier Rare Earths Limited (TSX: FRO) (TSX: FRO.WT) ("Frontier" or the "Company") is pleased to announce the filing on SEDAR of a National Instrument ("NI") 43-101 compliant technical report on the results of the Preliminary Economic Assessment ("PEA") carried out on the Company's Zandkopsdrift rare earth element project in South Africa. Highlights of the results of the PEA, previously reported by Frontier on February 21, 2012, are set out below:
HIGHLIGHTS of the Zandkopsdrift 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 REO forecasts applied to 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.
The PEA was carried out by Venmyn Rand (Pty) Ltd ("Venmyn"), one of South Africa's leading independent advisors specialising in the technical and economic evaluation of mineral projects, with contributions from a number of specialist consultants, including The MSA Group ("MSA") for resource estimation, Sound Mining Solution ("SMS") for the mine design and schedule, SGS Minerals Services ("SGS") for metallurgical flow sheet development, and SNC Lavalin Group ("SNC") for engineering design and capital and operating cost estimates. Fiona Harper, Pr.Sci.Nat, is the independent qualified person from Venmyn responsible for the PEA, and has reviewed and approved the technical and economic information provided in this release.
A copy of the technical report will also be available on the Company's website at www.frontierrareearths.com
Note: The Company cautions that the PEA referred to in this announcement is preliminary in nature, includes some inferred mineral resources that are considered too speculative geologically to have the economic considerations applied to them that would enable them to be categorized as mineral reserves, and that there is no certainty that the PEA will be realized. Caution: mineral resources that are not reserves do not have economic viability. All dollar amounts are in U.S. currency.
Frontier Rare Earths Limited is a mineral exploration and development company exclusively 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 undeveloped rare earth deposits worldwide. Zandkopsdrift's favourable location is expected to provide significant advantages in relation to capital costs and development time compared to other rare earth projects currently being evaluated, and makes Frontier well positioned to become one of the first significant new producers of separated rare earths outside China. Frontier has a direct 74% interest and a current 95% economic interest in Zandkopsdrift.
Frontier is listed on the main board of the Toronto Stock Exchange and currently has 89,562,781 shares outstanding. Frontier is well funded, with approximately $37m cash and no debt, and this strong working capital position will finance the proposed work programme of the Company and the expected completion of a Preliminary Feasibility Study (scheduled for Q4 2012) and a Definitive Feasibility Study for the Zandkopsdrift Project (scheduled for Q3 2013).
In December 2011 Frontier completed a definitive strategic partnership agreement with Korea Resources Corporation (KORES) in relation to the development of Zandkopsdrift. KORES, which is controlled by the Korean Government, is currently finalising the formation of a consortium of leading Korean companies to also participate in the Frontier KORES joint venture and which is expected to include Samsung Group, GS Group, Daewoo Shipping & Marine Engineering Group and AJU Group. Frontier plans to commence production of separated rare earth oxides from Zandkopsdrift in H2 2015 at a rate of 20,000 tonnes per annum.
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