Defense Metals Corp. (TSXV:DEFN) has engaged SRK Consulting (Canada) Inc. to commence site geotechnical investigations at its wholly owned Wicheeda Rare Earth Element (REE) Project in British Columbia during 2023.
The company has also appointed Kevin Weston as Wicheeda REE Project Development Coordinator.
“We are excited to start this new phase of development for our Wicheeda Rare Earth Project,” CEO, Craig Taylor, said.
“Defense Metals is pleased to continue its relationship with SRK given their prior involvement in our positive PEA and recently completed pit slope geotechnical study. Given the rapid pace of project development, we are also very pleased to announce the appointment of Kevin Weston as Project Development Coordinator.
“We look forward to Kevin focusing his more than 40 years experience in mine permitting, operations, and project management on the continued development of Wicheeda; one of the best rare earth projects globally.”
SRK Geotechnical Study Details
The SRK geotechnical studies will inform the planned Wicheeda REE Project preliminary feasibility study (PFS) with respect to areas of geotechnical engineering, hydrology, site infrastructure, tailings facilities, geochemistry, and site water management. SRK’s work will include field investigations, including preliminary characterization of shallow soil subsurface and bedrock foundations, tasks designed to advance the PFS engineering work including preliminary characterization of shallow soil subsurface and bedrock foundations.
The work will facilitate the development of PFS level design criteria, including siting evaluation, and alternative trade-off studies focusing on technical, environmental, permitting risk and socio-economic considerations to support community and stake-holder engagement.
As part of the alternatives assessment a study of surficial geology and geomorphology to identify potential geohazards, and identify potential borrow pit areas both for tailings storage facility (TSF) construction materials and as suitable reclamation material for mine closure is planned.
In addition, rock geochemical characterization to support mine planning/waste management and to develop preliminary water chemistry predictions will be completed.
Appointment of Project Development Coordinator
Defense Metals has appointed Kevin Weston as Wicheeda REE Project Development Coordinator. Mr Weston is a graduate of McGill University’s mining engineering programme with more than 40 years of experience in mine permitting, operations, and project management. He is a proven safety/environmental leader and community relations builder.
Significantly, Mr Weston brings a wealth of prior British Columbia project development experience having been COO of JDS Silver Inc. when, between 2013 and 2017, he oversaw the engineering, successful mine permitting, and ultimately construction of the Silvertip silver-lead-zinc mine in northern British Columbia.
Mr Weston will be instrumental in coordinating the technical, geological, engineering, environmental, socio-economic and First Nations engagement aspects of the Wicheeda REE Project in support of future project development permit applications.
Future permitting of the Wicheeda REE Project is expected to proceed through the B.C. Ministry of Energy, Mines, and Low Carbon Innovation Major Mine Permitting Office (MMPO) and environmental assessment (EA) via the BC Environmental Assessment Office (EAO) as required by British Columbia’s Environmental Assessment Act. B.C. has a rigorous EA process that carefully evaluates the potential environmental, economic, social, heritage and health impacts of proposed projects, as well as potential impacts to First Nations interests.
About the Wicheeda Rare Earth Element Property
Defense Metals 100% owned, 4,262-hectare (~10,532-acre) Wicheeda REE Property is located approximately 80km northeast of the city of Prince George, British Columbia; population 77,000. The Wicheeda project is readily accessible by all-weather gravel roads and is near infrastructure, including hydro power transmission lines, gas pipelines, The nearby Canadian National Railway and major highways allow easy access to the port facilities at Prince Rupert, the closest major North American port to Asia.
The 2021 Wicheeda REE Project Preliminary Economic Assessment technical report (PEA) outlined a robust after-tax net present value (NPV @8%) of $517M and an 18% IRR. This PEA contemplated an open pit mining operation with a 1.75:1 (waste:mill feed) strip ratio providing a 1.8 Mtpa mill throughput producing an average of 25,423t REO annually over a 16 year mine life. A Phase 1 initial pit strip ratio of 0.63:1 (waste:mill feed) would yield rapid access to higher grade surface mineralization in year 1 and payback of $440M initial capital within five years.
Defense Metals and the McLeod Lake Indian Band have entered into a Mineral Exploration Agreement that establishes a framework for communication and cooperation going forward and provides current economic opportunities for the community. In addition, the agreement provides a roadmap to building a long-term and mutually beneficial relationship as the exploration activities advance.
For further information please visit: https://www.defensemetals.com/