Great Western Minerals Group ("GWMG") is pleased to announce that it has negotiated a Heads of Terms with Ganzhou Qiandong Rare Earth Group Ltd. ("GQD") of China to build a Rare Earth separation plant in South Africa, located in proximity to GWMG’s Steenkampskraal operation.
The Heads of Terms agreement between the two companies will form the basis of the project. Signing the Heads of Terms agreement in July 2011 positions GWMG to work toward the final agreement by the end of August 2011.
A new joint venture company, Great Western GQD Rare Earth Materials Co. Ltd., will be created in which GWMG will hold 75% ownership while GQD will hold the remaining 25%.
Great Western GQD Rare Earth Materials Co. Ltd. will be responsible for the design, manufacture, construction, commissioning and operation of the planned separation facility. It is anticipated that the separation plant will be fed with Rare Earth chloride that GWMG produces at its Steenkampskraal monazite mine and/or with feedstock from sources in the region.
GQD is a highly respected Chinese processor of Rare Earth oxides and metals with over twenty years of operational experience. GQD has been a supplier of metals and oxides to GWMG's wholly-owned subsidiary, Less Common Metals Limited ("LCM") for over fifteen years.
GWMG President and Chief Executive Officer Jim Engdahl said, "Our agreement with GQD marks one of the most significant developments so far in the delivery of our fully integrated Rare Earth business model. GQD's experience in the rare earth industry will ensure our new facility will be at the cutting edge of solvent extraction processing. GWMG's team of metallurgists will be working closely with those from GQD to finalize process and plant design in order to commence construction of this plant early in 2012. This agreement is a major step in our plans to deliver separated Rare Earth oxides and metals to the world market by the beginning of 2013."
Mr. Gong Bin, Chairman of the Board and President of GQD stated, "The world of Rare Earths has gone through significant changes in the past two years. We at GQD welcome this opportunity to work with GWMG and our old friends at LCM in establishing a new integrated Rare Earths producer that is able to supply ever increasing world demand."
Great Western Minerals Group Ltd. is an integrated Rare Earths processor. Its specialty alloys are used in the battery, magnet and aerospace industries. Produced at the Company's wholly owned subsidiaries Less Common Metals Limited in Birkenhead, U.K. and Great Western Technologies Inc. in Troy, Michigan, these alloys contain aluminium, nickel, cobalt and Rare Earth Elements. As part of the Company's vertical integration strategy, GWMG holds 100% equity ownership in Rare Earth Extraction Co. Limited, which owns a 74% equity interest in the Steenkampskraal Mine. In addition to a planned exploration program at Steenkampskraal, GWMG also holds interests in six Rare Earth exploration and development properties in North America.