JOHANNESBURG (miningweekly.com) - The US House of Representatives' Natural Resources Committee has passed the National Strategic and Critical Minerals Production Act, which Aim- and ASX-listed Thor Mining said would benefit its Pilot Mountain tungsten project in Nevada.
While further steps are required in the legislative process, the company said on Friday that the successful passing of the legislation would be a key step to enable the acceleration of permitting and related matters pertaining to critical metals projects in the US.
Thor has a 100% interest in the Pilot Mountain tungsten project, which has an indicated and inferred Joint Ore Reserves Committee-compliant resource of 32 720 t of tungsten trioxide, 192 t of silver and 14 300 t of copper.
In February, the US Department of the Interior included tungsten in its list of commodities considered critical to the US. There is currently no domestic supply of primary tungsten in the US.
Meanwhile, Thor said that it would not proceed with an option to acquire the Western Shaw project in Western Australia, on which the company has undertaken initial due diligence work, in line with a strategy to focus its resources on its three key projects.
"In December 2017, we signalled significant project milestones for our core tungsten and copper projects, including the Molyhil opencut ore reserve, and the Kapunda copper mineral resource estimate. We could not, however, accurately predict the positive events outside of our control, including the continuing strengthening of the tungsten price and now this US initiative to streamline and accelerate regulatory approvals of mining developments for critical minerals in the US," Thor Mining executive chairperson Mick Billing said, adding that the company had to react to the positive developments in an "appropriately commercial manner, and with a sense of urgency".
Earlier this month, the company announced that it would focus entirely on its strategic tungsten and copper interests.
"We have followed through with that today and although we have many exploration opportunities, we must be hard headed and now recognise that Thor already has three substantial advanced tungsten, and copper, interests each of substance and significantly scalable," he said.
However, Billing noted that - after years of challenges in the tungsten sector - the company had received interest in its projects from multiple avenues.
To secure best value for shareholders, he said Thor Mining must be seen to drive its tungsten interests forward while engaging commercially with third parties.
"We are doing that right now and the accelerated focus on critical commodities in the US, means Pilot Mountain is exceptionally well positioned to create considerable value."
Meanwhile, Billing further said that the company's board had noted the downward pressure on the company's share price in recent weeks.
"In the board's view the recent share price movement in no way reflects the significant progress that has been achieved across each of its key project interests, as outlined by market announcements."
With £1.6-million cash at bank, no debt and a focus on commercialisation of the company's interests, Billing stated that Thor had no need to rely on the market for financing.
In cash terms, Billing noted that the company was funded against current plans well into 2019.