A recent report from consultants has allowed Commerce Resources to further delineate its tantalum and niobium deposit about 25 km north of Blue River.
“We are again extremely pleased with the results of this study, which represents a major milestone in the progress to develop the Upper Fir,‚Äù said Dave Hodge, Commerce’s president.
‚ÄúThe resource reported today is further confirmation of Commerce’s belief that we are in the process of building a very important long-term source of conflict-free and ethical tantalum which could potentially supply 10 per cent of the current world’s market for the long term.” Hodge said.
“Results of all the technical work completed to date give solid evidence of the quality of the mineral resource. Commerce continues to be active in its search for a strategic partner who will work with us to define appropriate project financing options to support the recommended pre-feasibility studies.”
The technical report prepared by independent consultants, AMEC Americas Limited (AMEC) supports the findings of a mineral resource update and also includes summaries from a preliminary economic assessment (PEA) completed in 2011.
The 2011 PEA proposed an underground mine with a processing rate of 7,500 tonnes/day. The concentrate would be processed to produce oxides of tantalum and niobium.
These products are generally sold under contract and the prices are typically kept confidential between buyer and seller.
Assumptions in the PEA included commodity prices of US$381/kg for Tantalum and US$46/kg for Niobium.
Overall, AMEC concluded the 2011 PEA outcomes remain reasonable and valid in 2013.
Capital and operating costs likely have increased since 2011 but AMEC is assuming that any increase in costs have been offset by the increase in the Tantalum price over the same period.
According to the 2011 PEA, total estimated capital cost to design and build the mine would be CAD$379 million.
Estimated payback would be 6.3 years while the conceptual mine life would be 9.3 years.
The 2013 mineral resource estimate is larger than the 2011 mineral resource used to prepare the plan. This shows potential to extend the life-of-mine, though its impact on the economics of the Upper Fir deposit has not yet been examined.
AMEC’s recommended work program is expected to take two years to complete. Total cost of the pre-feasibility study would be $13.9 million, of which $5.46 million would be spent on drilling.
Commerce notes that power transmission lines, rail, and paved and gravel roads are all adjacent to, or within its property boundaries. Transalta’s 18 MW Bone Creek run-of-river hydroelectricity project near the project was commissioned in June 2011.
According to Wikipedia, Tantalum is a rare metal that is mainly used to make capacitors for such things as mobile phones and DVD players.
Niobium is a soft, grey metal that is mostly used in making special alloys, such as those used in gas pipelines.