ASX-listed Pensana Metals has appointed the international engineering company Wood Group to execute a preliminary feasibility study for the expedited development of its Longonjo NdPr rare earth project.
Angola – The study will focus on the delivery of a low capital cost open pit mining operation and exporting flotation concentrates to customers in China via the recently upgraded Benguela rail line and the Atlantic deep‐water port of Lobito.
Discussions with potential financiers have commenced and it is expected that a financing package will be finalised to coincide with the completion of the PFS (scheduled for September 2019).
The company is of the view that given the work that has been completed to date and the relative simplicity of the operation, following the completion of a favourable PFS it should be possible to move immediately to Front End Engineering Design (FEED) and Engineering Procurement Construction Management (EPCM).
Pensana Metals, COO Dave Hammond comments:
“The development concept is very straight forward. We are looking at a low capital cost, shallow open pit and flotation operation producing a high‐grade concentrate for export to China via the adjacent major rail and port infrastructure.”
“Our aim is to get into production and build our customer base at a time when EV and wind turbine manufacturers are driving the increasing demand for NdPr magnets for electric motors and Chinese rare earth processors are looking for additional low‐cost feedstock.”
Wood Group previously undertook the scoping study for Longonjo and have an experienced rare earth mining and development team.
the decision to expedite these development studies follows the completion of a large, high grade mineral resource estimate for the company’s 84% owned project in Angola.
The PFS base case for the initial development of Longonjo will consist of a shallow open pit mine and flotation plant on site.
The development will leverage off the advantage of the modern rail and port infrastructure already in place on the projects doorstep to ship a high‐grade flotation concentrate to customers China.
Initial development studies will focus on the highest grade and quality portion of the mineral resource estimate – the near surface weathered zone mineralisation.
Pensana has already demonstrated an effective processing route for this style of mineralisation to produce a high‐grade mineral concentrate using flotation techniques.
The high‐grade weathered zone subset represents less than 10% of the total mineral resource estimate and at a 0.65% NdPr lower cut off includes 22.9 Mt at 4.16% REO including 0.86% NdPr containing 953 000 t REO including 197 000 t of NdPr.
Subsequent studies will focus on an expansion of this initial operation to treat additional NdPr mineralisation from this large deposit.
The Chinese built US$1.8 billion Benguela rail line is located just 4 km from the project and runs directly to the Atlantic port at Lobito, linking the project to customers in China. The existing modern infrastructure on the doorstep is a major advantage for the practical and economic development of Longonjo.
The company is working with Chinese technical institutes to further optimise the concentrate production process flowsheet.
PFS technical programmes
Working with Wood, Pensana has defined technical work programmes to deliver the Longonjo PFS by September 2019.
Studies include additional drilling, optimisation of the flotation process and comminution test work, mining optimisation studies, a revised mineral resource estimate and detailed cost studies based on engineering design work.
A drilling programme is now nearing completion on site and additional drilling, currently in progress, will test the potential for southern extensions to the current mineral resource estimate where high grade NdPr mineralisation remains open along the southern margin of the carbonatite.
A final pit optimisation and mine design will be completed once the indicated mineral resource estimate and PFS cost estimates become available.
SRK Consulting have been appointed to complete the revised mineral resource estimate, which is scheduled for completion in June 2019.