Peak slashes costs at Tanzania rare earths project

Despite global inflationary pressures, Australia-listed Peak Rare Earths has successfully…

Despite global inflationary pressures, Australia-listed Peak Rare Earths has successfully reduced its capital and operating cost estimates for the Ngualla project, in Tanzania.

The project, which stands as one of the biggest undeveloped rare earths projects globally, is now forecast to cost 10% less than previous estimates at $286.9-million.

The estimated average yearly operating costs have also been lowered by 17.8% to $76.7-million.

The new cost estimates are contained in a recently completed front-end engineering and design (FEED) study, which CEO Bardin Davis says marks a milestone for the project.

“The project has been further enhanced from both a technical and economic perspective. Given global inflationary pressure it was particularly pleasing to deliver material reductions in both capital and operating costs,” says Davis.

The Ngualla project benefits from a low breakeven neodymium and praseodymium oxide price, he adds.

The FEED study builds on the bankable feasibility study (BFS), completed in October last year, and an initial BFS in April 2017.

The BFS estimates ore reserves at 18.5-million tonnes grading 4.8% total rare earth oxides (TREOs) for contained TREOs of 887 000 t.

Rare-earth ore mined from the Ngualla deposit will be processed through a concentration plant, which is co-located at the mine site. Ore will be beneficiated through a milling and two-stage flotation circuit, resulting in a high-grade rare-earth concentrate of about 45% TREOs.

Based on the original BFS, completed in 2017, the updated BFS has decreased the concentrate production from Ngualla from 18 200 t/y of TREO to 16 200 t/y of TREO over a 24-year mine life.

With the completion of the FEED study, Peak is now progressing the Ngualla project towards a final investment decision by June 2024.

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