SOURCE: Texas Rare Earth Resources

Texas Rare Earth Resources

December 04, 2013 07:00 ET

Texas Rare Earth Resources Reports Robust Economics for New Round Top Preliminary Economic Assessment

Heap Leach Extraction Drops Estimated Capex and Opex Costs Dramatically

SIERRA BLANCA, TX--(Marketwired - Dec 4, 2013) - Texas Rare Earth Resources Corp (OTCQX: TRER), a heavy rare earths exploration company, is pleased to report highlights of the strong results of the updated NI 43-101 Preliminary Economic Assessment (PEA) completed by Gustavson Associates of Lakewood, Colorado regarding the Round Top Project in Sierra Blanca, Texas. The full version of the PEA will be released and posted on the TRER website within a short period of time followed by a conference call for all interested parties.

Highlights of the PEA Include:

  • Net Present Value (NPV): $1.47 Billion at a 10% discount rate, pre-tax.
  • Internal Rate of Return (IRR): 69%.
  • Payback Period: 1.5 years.
  • Capital Cost: $292.7 Million, including a complete on-site rare earth oxide (REO) separation plant, and a contingency provision in the amount of $58.5 Million. Among the lowest capital outlays in the world rare earth mining sector.
  • Rare Earth Oxide Pricing Assumptions: Current spot pricing yields 69% IRR. Breakeven IRR is at a 52% reduction to current spot prices.
  • Mining Rate: 20,000 tonnes per day (TPD).
  • Approximate Weighted Average Total Rare Earth Recoveries: 71.5%
  • Production of REOs at site: Deployment of proven conventional solvent extraction (SX) technology to generate high purity individual rare earth oxides at the site.
  • REO Oxide Production: Averaging 3,325 tonnes per year (TPY) total, including approximately 2,569 TPY of HREE+ Y. Full production includes 198 TPY of dysprosium oxide and 1,645 TPY of yttrium oxide.
  • Heap Leach Processing Technology: Proven conventional technology utilizing leach pads built to Texas Environmental Standards.
  • Mine Life: 20 years, based on mining only 18% of the existing Measured, Indicated and Inferred Mineral Resource Estimate.
  • Direct Employment: 125-175 employees.
  • Ease of Shipping Access: Only three miles north of Interstate Highway 10 and within 3 miles of a major railroad. El Paso airport is 85 miles northwest.
  • Near Term, High Value Production: Relative high percentage (70%) of rare earth oxides strategically critical to the US defense, clean energy, aerospace, supercomputing and transportation sectors: including Dy and Y.
  • Located on state property: 6.25% Net Smelter Royalty (NSR) owed to Texas General Land Office (GLO).
  • Significant Non-REE Revenue Opportunities: The PEA excludes the economic impact of a Uranium (U) resource estimate of 43.7 million kg of measured, indicated and inferred U oxide. TRER plans to include this impact in future economic analyses.

"The completion of this PEA is a key milestone in Texas Rare Earth Resources goal to near term HREE production and confirms our vision that a low cost open pit heap leach operation is as applicable to our unique mineralogy in the rare earth sector as it is to gold and copper operations," said Dan Gorski, President & CEO of Texas Rare Earth Resources. "Round Top's unique geology and location has generated an estimated CAPEX that is among the lowest in the rare earth industry. Our PEA includes full downstream separation facilities that promise to potentially render high purity oxides both economically and on-site. In turn, the Round Top PEA has delivered highly robust projected IRR and NPV calculations using current spot REE prices. The facility could generate critical technology oxides that are indispensable and increasingly difficult to obtain outside of China for applications that are the lifeblood of US competitiveness, including defense sector, clean technology, supercomputing, transportation and advanced aerospace. In recognition of the significance of the Round Top Project and with an eye toward enhancing shareholder value, we have an engaged a strategic advisor to assist us on the next phase of the project development."

Overview of the Round Top Project and PEA
The PEA has been completed based on the Measured, Indicated and Inferred Resource Estimate Technical Report filed on June 22, 2012 by Texas Rare Earth Resources and updated with the publication of this PEA. The resource was estimated by Gustavson Associates of Lakewood, Colorado. The resource incorporated into the current mine plan totals 525.4 million kg of rare earth oxide (REO), with an average grade of 634 ppm total rare earth oxides (TREO). Of the TREO, approximately 70% are comprised of heavy rare earth oxides plus Yttrium. A summary of the operating assumptions and financial model for the project is as follows:

Item   Annual    
Tonnes Mined   7,300,000    
Tonnes Processed   7,300,000    
Mined Grade TREO   634 ppm    
Weighted Average Total REO Recovery   71.5%    
        ($million)
Life of MineTotal Revenue       $7,900
Initial Capital Expenditure       $293
Life of Mine Sustaining Capital       $553
Total Before-Tax Cash Flow (undiscounted)       $4,344
Before-tax NPV @ 10%       $1,473.9
Before-tax IRR (%)       69%
         

Capital Cost Estimate
Initial capital cost estimates for the project are as follows:

Item   Total Cost
($million)
     
Mine Equipment   $6.079
Mine Development   $3.475
Process Equipment & Development   $203.645
Preproduction Costs   $20.975
Contingency   $58.543
Total Capital Cost   $292.717

Initial capital costs include all costs required to bring the facility to production. The ongoing life of mine sustaining capital costs are estimated to be $553M over the 20 year mine life.

Operating Cost Estimate

Item   Average
Unit Cost
($/ton mined)
Mining   $2.09
Processing   $12.69
G&A   $0.37
Total Operating Cost   $15.16

REE Pricing Considerations
In developing rare earth pricing assumptions, Texas Rare Earth Resources utilized currently available spot prices of rare earth oxides, derived from Metal Pages September 2013 prices and HEFA direct quotes from November 2013.

  Spot Price Assumptions
REO $/kg
La2O3 3
Ce2O3 3.50
Pr2O3 57.50
Nd2O3 40
Sm2O3 4.50
Eu2O3 540
Gd2O3 23.50
Tb2O3 930
Dy2O3 528
Ho2O3 350
Er2O3 125
Tm2O3 1,025
Yb2O3 190
Lu2O3 1,400
Y2O3 22
   
NPV @ 10% Discount $1,473.9M

Sensitivity Analysis
A sensitivity analysis was performed, to test the impact of changes to several key assumptions included in the economic model, with the following results:

Changes to selling price of REOs   NPV at 10%,
$million
  IRR, %
         
Increase of 20%   $2,040   91%
Increase of 10%   $1,757   80%
Base Case   $1,473   69%
Decrease of 10%   $1,190   58%
Decrease of 20%   $907   47%
         
Changes in operating costs   NPV at 10%,
$million
 
IRR, %
         
Increase of 20%   $1,299   61%
Increase of 10%   $1,3,86   65%
Base Case   $1,473   69%
Decrease of 10%   $1,561   73%
Decrease of 20%   $1,648   76%
         
Change in initial capital expenditure   NPV at 10%,
$million
 
IRR, %
         
Increase of 20%   $1,377   57%
Increase of 10%   $1,425   62%
Base Case   $1,473   69%
Decrease of 10%   $1,522   77%
Decrease of 20%   $1,570   87%
         

About Texas Rare Earth Resources Corp.
Texas Rare Earth Resources Corp.'s primary focus is exploring and, if warranted, developing its Round Top rare earth minerals project located in Hudspeth County, Texas, 85 miles east of El Paso. The Company's common stock trades on the OTCQX U.S. tier under the symbol "TRER." For more information on Texas Rare Earth Resources Corp., visit its website at www.trer.com.

Cautionary Note to Investors
The United States Securities and Exchange Commission ("SEC") limits disclosure for U.S. reporting purposes to mineral deposits that a company can economically and legally extract or produce. This press release uses certain terms that comply with reporting standards in Canada and certain estimates are made in accordance with Canadian National Instrument NI 43-101 ("NI 43-101") and the Canadian Institute of Mining, Metallurgy and Petroleum ("CIM") - CIM Definition Standards on Mineral Resources and Mineral Reserves, adopted by the CIM Council, as amended (the "CIM Standards"). NI 43-101 is a rule developed by the Canadian Securities Administrators that establishes standards for all public disclosures an issuer makes of scientific and technical information concerning mineral projects. This press release uses the terms "resource," "measured and indicated mineral resource," and "inferred mineral resource." We advise U.S. investors that while these terms are defined in accordance with NI 43-101 such terms are not recognized under the SEC's Industry Guide 7 and are normally not permitted to be used in reports and registration statements filed with the SEC. Mineral resources in these categories have a great amount of uncertainty as to their economic and legal feasibility. "Inferred resources" have a great amount of uncertainty as to their existence and, under Canadian regulations, cannot form the basis of a pre-feasibility or feasibility study, except in limited circumstances. The SEC normally only permits issuers to report mineralization that does not constitute SEC Industry Guide 7 compliant "reserves" as in-place tonnage and grade without reference to unit measures. Under SEC Industry Guide 7 standards, a "final" or "bankable" feasibility study is required to report reserves, the three-year historical average price is used in any reserve or cash flow analysis to designate reserves and all necessary permits and government approvals must be filed with the appropriate governmental authority. The PEA is not a defintive feasibility study and our Round Top project currently does not contain any known proven or probable ore reserves under SEC Industry Guide 7 reporting standards. The results of the PEA disclosed in this press release are preliminary in nature and include inferred mineral resources that are considered speculative geologically to have the economic considerations applied to them that would enable them to be categorized as mineral reserves and there is no certainty that the results of the PEA will be realized. U.S. investors are urged to consider closely the disclosure in our latest reports and registration statements filed with the SEC. You can review and obtain copies of these filings at http://www.sec.gov/edgar.shtml. U.S. Investors are cautioned not to assume that any defined resource will ever be converted into SEC Industry Guide 7 compliant reserves.

Forward-Looking Statements
This press release contains forward-looking statements within the meaning of the U.S. Securities Act of 1933, as amended, and U.S. Securities Exchange Act of 1934, as amended, including, but not limited to, statements regarding the potential development of the Round Top project, estimates and projections regarding the economic feasibility of the Round Top project from the update PEA, including, NPV, IRR, payback period, capital cost, pricing assumptions, mining rate, average recoveries, oxide production amounts and methodologies, mine life, employment requirements, resource amounts and grades, projected revenues, initial capital costs, life of mine sustaining capital, cash flow projections, capital and operating cost estimates and projections, and sensitivity analysis, inclusion of uranium in future economic analyses, the potential to render high purity oxides, the Round Top facility generating critical technology oxides, release of the full PEA within a short period of timeand other such similar statements. When used in this press release, the words "potential," "indicate," "expect," "intend," "hopes," "believe," "may," "will," "if, "anticipate," and similar expressions are intended to identify forward-looking statements. These statements involve known and unknown risks, uncertainties and other factors which may cause the actual results, performance or achievements of the Company to be materially different from any future results, performance or achievements expressed or implied by such statements. Such factors include, among others, uncertainty of mineralized material and mineral resource estimates, risks to projected and estimated economics not reflecting actual economic results due to the uncertainty of mining processes, potential non-uniform sections of minerlaized material, potential mining hazards and accidents, changes in equipment and labor costs, changes in projected REE prices and demand, competition in the REE industry, risks related to project development determinations, the inherently hazardous nature of mining-related activities, potential effects on the Company's operations of environmental regulations, risks due to legal proceedings, liquidity risks and risks related to uncertainty of being able to raise capital on favorable terms or at all, as well as those factors discussed under the heading "Risk Factors" in the Company's latest annual report on Form 10-K as filed on November 26, 2013 and other documents filed with the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission. Except as required by law, the Company assumes no obligation to publicly update any forward-looking statements.

Contact Information

  • Company Contact:
    Texas Rare Earth Resources Corp.
    Anthony Marchese
    Chairman
    E-mail: Email Contact

    Investor Contact:
    Alliance Advisors, LLC
    Alan Sheinwald
    Phone: (914) 669-0222
    E-mail: Email Contact

    Valter Pinto
    Phone: (914) 669-0222 x201
    E-mail: Email Contact