Cradle Resources announced its Definitive Feasibility Study (DFS) on the 20th April 2016. The Study has focused on producing on average 5,400tpa (5.4Mkg/annum) niobium as ferroniobium over the LOM with a 1.3Mtpa concentrator initially operating for 4 years and then expanding to 2.6Mtpa in Year 5.
Very positive financial metrics are generated in the DFS for the Project with a projected NVP8 (after tax) of US$542M and pre-tax IRR of 32% and a nominal pay-back period of only 4.75 years, from fully funded and inclusive of the expansion capital.
An initial construction capital cost of US$165M with a pre-production requirement of US$31M (excluding working capital) has been determined. A further US$93M has been allowed for the expansion of the plant to 2.6Mtpa. Average LOM operating costs for the process are estimated at US$21.34/kg Nb (vs. an average weighted LOM price od US$42).
Craig Burton, the Chairman of Cradle, commented:
“The Cradle DFS demonstrates an exceptionally strong Project. The numbers speak for themselves. On any analysis, this Project is likely to be brought into production and deliver substantial profits for many years. This will be the first new niobium producer in 40 years and the only new producer of this rare metal in the foreseeable future. The demand for niobium continues to grow strongly due to the burgeoning world-wide demand for new-age materials and associated elements like lithium, graphite and niobium.”
The Panda Hill Niobium Project is located in the Mbeya region, near the borders with Zambia and Malawi, approximately 680km west of the capital Dar es Salaam. The Project has excellent nearby infrastructure including: TAZARA Rail line (2km away), the Dar es Salaam – Tunduma Highway (5km away), Songwe Airport (8km away) and the Lafarge Songwe Cement Factory (6km away). Access to water and power is also relatively simple with water harvesting from TSF and surrounds possible and the Songwe River, a major water course, running next to the mining tenements. Power is available at the Mbeya Substation and TANESCO is also planning a new 400kV power line that will run past the licence area.