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Sarfartoq Carbonatite Complex
The Sarfartoq Carbonatite Complex in west Greenland is 100% controlled by Hudson Resources (TSX.V – HUD) and is one of the worlds largest carbonatite complexes having approximate dimensions of 13 x 8 km.
The minerals of economic interest are:
Pyrochlore – a niobium and tantalum oxide. In the core of the complex there are high uranium levels corresponding with exceptionally high concentrations of niobium and tantalum, concentrations that are unusually high in comparison to other such deposits throughout the world. The Sarfartoq Project has produced some of the highest known niobium intercepts.
Uranium is directly associated with the niobium in the pyrochlore and is an effective prospecting tool used to identify other pyrochlore occurrences on the project.
Red Ankerite – the bulk material containing bastnaesite and monazite which are host to the rare earth elements. The Sarfartoq Carbonatite’s rare earth elements (REE) are generally found along the outer margins of the carbonatite.
The distribution of individual rare earth oxides, as a percentage of the total rare earth oxides, demonstrate a high proportion of neodymium oxide to total rare earth oxides.
The high grade rare earth oxides on the Sarfartoq Project are associated with low levels of thorium. As a result, the thorium radiometric signature is an effective prospecting tool for identifying additional REE occurrences.
A 2002 radiometric survey identified over 30 targets on the Sarfartoq Project but a significant portion of the area is covered by disaggregated material which may be masking additional radiometric anomalies.
Sarfartoq Project Historical Work
The Sarfartoq Carbonatite Complex was the focus of limited exploration activity after its discovery by Greenland government geologists in 1976.
Hecla Mining completed a small initial drill program in 1989 which was followed by New Millennium Resources spending in excess of five million dollars on exploration from 2000 to 2002.
Non-compliant NI 43-101 historical results include a trench sample grading 14.4% niobium oxide (Nb2O5) over 200 meters and a diamond drill hole averaging 12.13% Nb2O5 over 20 meters starting from near surface.
Bench-scale metallurgical test work carried out on the pyrochlore material from 2000-2003 demonstrated that recoveries of over 95% for niobium and uranium are achievable utilizing solvent extraction.
No follow up work was ever done on some highly anomalous REE results in a number of areas within the outer ring structure of the carbonatite – the north area, despite the average combined lanthanum, cerium and neodymium oxides samples averaging 1.1% (a number of samples exceeded 4.0%), saw little advanced exploration.
The Sarfartoq Complex is 20 minutes by helicopter from a major airport, is located near tidewater – in a year-round ice-free area of Greenland – and is adjacent to very good potential hydroelectric (run of river) sites.
Alcoa is currently evaluating a hydroelectric site within 15 km of the Sarfartoq project to support an aluminum smelter to be built on the coast. The hydroelectric facility would have an installed capacity of 600 to 750 megawatts. Civil infrastructure, including harbors, camps, roads and heliports would be developed to support construction of the project.
Hudson has had preliminary discussions with the Greenland government and Alcoa to ensure access to this clean, cost effective power source should it be constructed.
Moratorium On Uranium Exploration
The Government of Greenland amended the Standard Terms for Exploration Licenses and will permit, subject to their approval, the exploitation of minerals that co-exist with radioactive elements above normal background concentrations. There has been no change to the moratorium on uranium exploration and the government retains all rights to radioactive elements.
Because of the current controversy surrounding uranium mining in Greenland, and the exceptional grades of uranium – consistently hitting 1% – Hudson is not, despite average niobium grades of 5%, committing itself to working in the core of the Sarfartoq Carbonatite Complex at the present time. Instead, it is Hudson’s intention to focus on development of its rare earth prospects, in particular the REE(s) associated with the manufacture of today’s powerful miniaturized magnets.
Todays Sarfartoq Carbonatite Neodymium Mine Project
Hudson has recently released the results of a Preliminary Economic Assessment (PEA) for its Neodymium Mine Project.
The Study shows a Net Present Value of $616 million and an Internal Rate of Return of 31.2 % with a 2.7 year pay-back period. The Study was based on the Company’s 43-101 compliant inferred resource of 14.1 million tonnes at 1.5% TREO at the ST1 Zone.
A total of 16,514 meters in 71 holes were drilled in 2011 and these results have not yet been incorporated into the resource estimate or the PEA.
The report noted:
“We are very pleased with the results of the PEA which demonstrate the robust economics of the project. Having the project located adjacent to tidewater provides significant economic benefits in both capital and operating costs. Looking ahead, we expect to have an updated resource estimate completed in early 2012, which will incorporate all of the 2011 drill results which includes dozens of high-grade sections from 2.0% to 6.5% TREO.
We plan to update the PEA with the results of the updated resource estimate in early 2012. As the project economics are quite sensitive to grade, we are optimistic that higher project valuations will be reported in the updated PEA." James Tuer, Hudson’s President
Assays from a five tonne bulk metallurgical sample, collected on surface at the ST1 Zone, graded 2.5% Total Rare Earth Oxides (TREO). Neodymium oxide averaged 20% of total REO’s.
Hudson's president, James Tuer, stated:
“The extraction of the 5-tonne metallurgical sample is very exciting for several reasons. Firstly, it confirms the presence of a significant amount of high-grade rare earth material at surface. Secondly, and possibly more importantly, it provides a sufficient quantity of material for us to take the metallurgy through to pilot scale testing. This sample will be incorporated into our updated resource model which we expect to have out in the first quarter of 2012.”
Recent metallurgical test work from SRC has demonstrated successful extraction of rare earths utilizing acid baking and leaching. Test work showed that two hours of baking, at 220°C and approximately one tonne of acid per tonne of mineralized feed (concentrate) recovers 94% of the TREO.
The US Department of Energy, in its December 2011 report, Critical Materials Strategy, examined the role that rare earth metals and other key materials play in clean energy technologies such as wind turbines, electric vehicles, solar cells and energy-efficient lighting.
Five rare earth metals – dysprosium, neodymium, terbium, europium and yttrium are considered to be the most critical of the elements considered in the report.
Neodymium is the key to making the highest coercivity rare earth permanent magnets, the superior high strength permanent magnets used for many energy related applications, such as wind turbines (the most efficient turbines require approximately 1,000 kg of neodymium for each megawatt of electricity to be produced) and hybrid automobiles. The shift away from electromagnetic systems toward permanent magnetic-based direct drive systems is increasing demand for these high powered magnets.
Neodymium is in short supply in the global marketplace and prices to remain robust, with neodymium oxide currently quoted at US$200/kg, FOB China, and at US$100/kg, within China, according to metal-pages.com
The distribution of individual rare earth oxides as a percentage of the total rare earth oxides from the Phase Two program at HUD’s Sarfartoq Carbonatite’s ST1 Zone are documented in the table below. The results are consistent with previous assay results and demonstrate a high proportion of neodymium oxide to total rare earth oxides at 19% – based on the present inferred resource the ST1 Zone at Sarfartoq represents one of the industry’s highest ratios of neodymium to total rare earth oxide (TREO).
Note that the gross amount of neodymium oxide (Nd203, 40 million kg in total) is approximately the same at each of three locations. This is important for development of the project as a neodymium mine.
Also note; Hudson’s ST1 Zone represents one of the industry’s highest ratios of neodymium and praseodymium to TREO, totaling 25%, and that drilling at ST40 continues to intersect a very high ratio of neodymium oxide to TREO at 46%.
Hudson’s plans for 2012 include the commencement of a prefeasibility study (PFS) and an extensive drill program which will further delineate the high grade zones encountered in 2011 as well as other prospective targets that have been identified around the 32 km circumference of the Sarfartoq Carbonatite Complex. With current working capital of $12.5 million, the entire 2012 program could be accomplished with the current treasury.
There currently exists a formidable demand for Hudson’s primary target, neodymium and its other potential by-product credits ie praseodymium. Neodymium is in a supply deficit, both in China and in the west. The magnet industry's demand for neodymium is expected to grow by about 10% per year.
Hudson’s Neodymium Mine Project should be on everyone’s radar screen. Is it on yours?
If not, maybe it should be.
Richard (Rick) Mills
If you're interested in learning more about the junior resource sector, bio-tech and technology sectors please come and visit us at www.aheadoftheherd.com
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