SIGNIFICANT progress is being made at Cradle Resources’ Panda Hill niobium project in Tanzania, with test work and preliminary economic assessment programs ahead of schedule.
The company reported that metallurgical test work and environmental and social impact assessments were at an advanced stage.
Cradle managing director Grant Davey said the company was on track to complete all preliminary work by early 2014.
“The study is progressing well, on time and on budget, with excellent results to date,” he said.
“It is worth noting that a lot of the work being done on this study is at a pre-feasibility study level and we are working with world-class consultants.
“We will have a clear, credible picture of this exciting project when the study is completed early next year.”
Drilling by Cradle recently intersected high grade niobium at the project, increasing hope of the first new niobium mine since 1976.
The drilling program intersected high grade mineralisation including: 1.03 per cent of niobium at 17m, 0.88 per cent at 11m and 1.09 per cent at 48m.
The results are expected to increase the current resource estimate of 56 million tonnes of niobium at 0.5 per cent.
Historically, most niobium deposits were discovered in the 1960s, with Cradle Resources potentially becoming only the world’s fourth producer.
There is currently no other greenfields supply under construction and no new projects with demonstrated feasibility. Panda Hill is close to infrastructure including grid power, roads and rail – ensuring any future mining would be of a low cost.
When complete, the open cut mine would produce 2 million tonnes per annum of niobium and could produce for more than 25 years.
Niobium currently sells at about US$40,000 per tonne and demand is estimated to increase substantially in the next 20 years.