Wicheeda rare earths project, Canada – update

22nd September 2023 By: Sheila Barradas - Creamer Media Research Coordinator & Senior Deputy Editor

Wicheeda rare earths project, Canada – update

Photo by: Defense Metals

Name of the Project
Wicheeda rare earths project.

British Columbia, Canada.

Project Owner/s
Defense Metals.

Project Description
Defense Metals announced a positive preliminary economic assessment (PEA) for the Wicheeda project in November 2021.

The PEA envisages a 1.8-million-tonne-a-year openpit mining operation, with a 1.75:1 (waste:mill feed) strip ratio over a 19-year mine life that includes three years of construction, and early revenue generation through phased openpit development.

Material from the Wicheeda deposit will be processed in a flotation concentrator to produce a flotation concentrate that will be further processed at the hydrometallurgical plant.

Average rare-earth oxide production is estimated at 25 423 t/y.

Potential Job Creation
Not stated.

Net Present Value/Internal Rate of Return
The project has a pretax net present value, at an 8% discount rate, of $765-million and an internal rate of return of 20%.

The capital payback is five years from the start of production, and assumes partial self-funding of construction of the hydrometallurgical plant from concentrate sales.

Capital Expenditure
Initial capital expenditure (capex) is estimated at $461.42-million and includes a contingency allowance of 20% to 25% for major items.

The expansion capex under a cash-funded scenario is $474.09-million.

Planned Start/End Date
Not stated.

Latest Developments
Defense Metals has upgraded the mineral resource estimate at the Wicheeda deposit, demonstrating the required tonnages and grades necessary to advance its ongoing prefeasibility study.

The 2023 mineral resource estimate comprises a 6.4-million-tonne measured mineral resource, averaging 2.86% total rare-earth oxide (TREO), a 27.8-million-tonne indicated mineral resource, averaging 1.84% TREO and an 11.1-million-tonne inferred mineral resource, averaging 1.02% TREO.

The total measured and indicated mineral resources comprise 34.2-million tonnes, averaging 2.02% TREO, which is a significant upgrade representing a conversion of 101% of the 2021 MRE.

On a contained metal basis, the new estimate represents a 17% increase in TREO, or a 31% tonnage increase, when compared with the prior estimate.

Key Contracts, Suppliers and Consultants
SRK Consulting (PEA).

Contact Details for Project Information
Defense Metals, tel +1 778 994 8072 or email todd@defensemetals.com.