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Metallurgy currently targets a 20% TREO concentrate with 60% to 70% recovery—and a thorium-free carbonate. The preliminary economic assessment proposes a mixed rare-earth carbonate to be produced onsite.
Apart from $287 million allotted to mine infrastructure, the largest capital expenditure would be $204 million to build an all-weather road north to port facilities on Ungava Bay. But as Grove notes, the Quebec Government’s Plan Nord includes a proposal to build a road or rail link, along with power, that would run within 35 kilometres of Ashram. About 85 kilometres south is Adriana Resources’ Lac Otelnuk Iron Project, whose $12.9-billion CAPEX includes a proposed rail line south to the St Lawrence port of Sept-Îles.
Grove says, “With preliminary economic assessments completed on both the Ashram Deposit in Quebec and the Upper Fir Deposit in British Columbia, Commerce has two solid foundations for discussion with potential strategic partners. At present, I feel that with having two strong assets we are in a good position to attract a strategic partnership, which, if successful, could act as probably the greatest catalyst to increasing shareholder value.”
We’ve proven that we not only have a world-class, high-grade deposit but also that we have distribution of all the critical rare earth elements and that it is potentially easily extractable with a low strip ratio —Chris Grove, Corporate Communications, Commerce Resources Corp.
Commerce‘ Upper Fir Deposit is a tantalum-niobium project in east British Columbia and had its own PEA released in November 2011. The study projected a $379-million CAPEX for an underground mine producing 2.7 million tonnes per year at a cost of $38.44 per tonne milled and a cost per kilogram produced of $24.91 over a 10-year lifespan. The pretax NPV is $18.5 million using an 8% discount rate, with an IRR of 9.1% and a 6.3-year payback.
Tantalum, a little-known rare metal, often comes from a deeply troubled source. Varying estimates attribute up to 14% of the world’s tantalum supply deriving from conflict regions such as the Democratic Republic of the Congo. A federal statute in the United States (the Dodd-Frank Wall Street Reform and Consumer Protection Act) has been implemented which includes provisions for the prohibition of the purchase, by US public companies, of conflict minerals. Mary Shapiro, Chairman of the Securities and Exchange Commission, has reported that a decision on this regulation is expected by the end of June. This decision could affect the supply chains for each of the conflict minerals: tantalum, tin, tungsten and gold.
“The Upper Fir Deposit at Blue River has the potential to become a significant supplier of US compliant and conflict-free tantalum,” Grove claims.
Current work at the Upper Fir includes updating the mineral resource estimate with the information gathered from drilling which occurred following the last update. The resources will complement the ongoing work towards a prefeasibility study.
Grove concludes, “By our team’s commitment and focus, we have now delivered two cash-positive PEAs and look forward to the response from the global community.”
At press time Commerce Resources had 147.9 million shares trading at $0.27 for a market cap of $39.9 million.
Disclaimer: Commerce Resources Corp is part of Zimtu Capital Corp TSXV:ZC. Zimtu is a client of OnPage Media, and the principals of OnPage Media may hold shares in Zimtu.
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