OREANDA-NEWS. Canadian rare earth explorer Search Minerals has established improved project economics at its Foxtrot project in southeast Labrador, Canada, following an updated preliminary economic assessment (PEA).

The updated PEA, incorporating a mineral processing engineering study completed in June, has reconfirmed that Foxtrot has robust economics and the potential to become a profitable producer of rare earths, particularly dysprosium, neodymium, praseodymium and terbium, Search Minerals said.

Foxtrot would require initial capital of C$152mn ($110mn); C$57mn for underground mining for its eight years of development; and C$23mn of sustaining and closure capital. The project has the potential togenerate revenue of C$1.713bn over its 14-year life, the firm said.

Search Minerals expects to achieve savings in capital and operating costs through its direct leaching processing method on crushed material — which will shorten processing and produce a dry stackable inert residue that eliminates the need for wet tailing ponds — president and chief executive Greg Andrews said.

The 1,000 t/d project has a mine life of 14 years — eight years open pit and six years underground. It should produce 44,129t total rare earth oxide (TREO), or 3,300 t/yr at peak production. Total production across the 14 years includes 7.095mn kg of neodymium oxide and 836,000kg of dysprosium oxide.

Search Minerals has reduced its Foxtrot reserves estimates to 7.4mn t in indicated mineral resources from 9.3mn t in 2012, but has established that resources sre of a higher average TREO grade of 1.09pc TREO up from 1.06pc TREO previously, based on tighter assessment guidelines.