Friday, July 10, 2009

Geodex puts Pre-feasibility on hold due to lack of funding

By Chris Fox

 Daily Gleamer

A major step towards construction of a US$339-million open-pit tungsten mine near Stanley is on hold while officials search for funding.

Vancouver's Geodex Mining Ltd. completed a metallurgic assessment at a site in Sisson Brook in April. It showed rich deposits of tungsten and molybdenum valued at US$1.18 billion over an expected 20-year mine life. Exploratory drilling began June 11.

The next step will be a pre-feasibility study, expected to take six to eight months, but Mark Fields, president and CEO of Geodex Mining, said Thursday that securing funding for the $1.3-million study has been a challenge, leaving the project temporarily stalled.

"The sooner we can start the better, but in the summertime it is always more difficult to get the financing in place for something like that," he said.

"We are having some discussions and the sooner we can start the happier we will be, but we don't have any firm timeline right now."

While a 26-hole drilling project at the site now is meant to give officials from Geodex a clearer picture of the grade and quantity of tungsten at the site, the per-feasibility study will explore how to extract the tungsten and gauge the capital and labour costs that will be incurred in doing so. It will also make preliminary recommendation on how to lay out and design the mine.

"What we are trying to do is advance the confidence level of the work that has been done from broader parameters to more detailed study, and what we would like to be doing as we do the pre-feasibility study is have some discussions with parties in the Tungsten industry," said Fields.

"One of the advantages of the Sisson Brook deposit is that it is so large that it could become quite the player on the world stage, so we want to have increasing contact with the people that actually use the tungsten."

Tungsten is a steel-grey metal often used in construction. About 85 per cent of the world's tungsten supply comes from China, but there are also large stores in Austria, Bolivia, Portugal and Russia. In Canada, it is mined only in the Northwest Territories.

Stanley Mayor Richard Storey said he's excited for the impact a major mine in nearby Sisson Brook will have on his town.

"They are not ready with their feasibility study yet, but we are hoping it is going to go forward soon," he said.

"The majority of people in town are for it as long as the environmental studies are done according to the government. So we're kind of looking forward to it."

The Village of Stanley will release a third-party study on the economic impact of the Sisson Brook mine in September.

Fields said he's excited by the mine's money-making potential, adding that a delay of several months in moving on to the pre-feasibility study stage shouldn't have much of an impact on his plan to have the mine in operation by 2013.

"The worldwide economy is a big variable right now, but if things go ahead, we will certainly see the mine in operation by 2013 or 2014," he said.

"Sisson Brook is very well located and all the infrastructure is there in terms of roads, railway and labour force, and that is important because this is a worldwide market and we will be accessing the North American market, the Asian market and the European market."

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