Canada-based Prophecy is on track to transform the Gibellini project in the Battle Mountain region in north-eastern Nevada into the first primary vanadium producing mine in the US, executive chairperson John Lee affirmed on Friday.
The company, which is listed on the TSX, has set out a plan to complete the Gibellini permitting and environmental impact statement (EIS) in 2020, paving the way for project construction to start in 2021 and the first batch of vanadium pentoxide (V2O5) product to be delivered on site in 2022.
“We believe the Gibellini project is years ahead of other North American primary vanadium projects in terms of the time to deliver the vanadium product to the market, and we are on target to transform the Gibellini project to become the first primary vanadium producing mine in the United States,” Lee said in a statement on Friday, announcing the appointment of consulting firm NewField Companies to advance the project’s EIS.
Prophecy and the NewFields team would work with authorities to file all major permitting applications by the end of next year, with an EIS decision expected to be rendered in 2020.
Earlier this week, Prophecy secured a water supply licence for the Gibellini project, making it the only primary vanadium project in the US with a long-term water supply for its operation.
In terms of a ten-year water lease agreement with the owner of a private ranch, about 14 km from the project, Prophecy has the right to 262.4-million gallons of water a year, at a minimum flow rate of 500 gallons a minute from year-round springs.
The surface water agreement with the private owner should expedite the permitting process for the project, as the company does not have to appropriate water rights from the Nevada Division of Water Resources (DWR). However, the DWR has approved the water at the ranch for irrigation use and, as such, a change of water usage application will have to be lodged.
The Gibellini mine is forecast to cost $116.76-million to build and will produce 9.65-million pounds of vanadium pentoxide, according to a June 2018 preliminary economic assessment (PEA). The PEA estimated an operating cost of $4.77/lb of V2O5, while the price of vanadium is currently trading at $18.40/lb.
The project’s internal rate of return is $50.8%, its net present value is $338.3-million and it has a 1.72 year payback period.
Gibellini’s yearly vanadium production will represent about 3.5% of global production today. Excluding production from China, Russia and South Africa, that increases to 15%.
Vanadium is a minor metal traditionally used to strengthen steel, but is more recently used in a new generation of battery technology.