MKANGO ANNOUNCES RESULTS OF DEFINITIVE FEASIBILITY STUDY FOR THE SONGWE HILL RARE EARTHS PROJECT IN MALAWI – NPV OF US$559.0 MILLION AND IRR OF 31.5%
London, U.K. and Vancouver, CANADA – 5 July , 2022 – Mkango Resources Ltd. (AIM/TSX-V: MKA) (the “Company” or “Mkango”) is pleased to announce the results of the definitive feasibility study ( “DFS”) for the Songwe Hill Rare Earths Project (“Songwe” or the “Project”) in Malawi.
· US$559.0 million post-tax net present value (“NPV”), using a 10% nominal discount rate, with an internal rate of return (“IRR”) of 31.5%, payback period of 2.5 years from full production (5 years from start of capital expenditure) and post-tax life-of-operations nominal cash flow of $2.1 billion.
· DFS is for 100% of Songwe on a stand-alone basis. Under the Mines and Minerals Act of Malawi, the Government of Malawi is entitled to a 10% free carried interest in Songwe.
· Songwe is now confirmed as one of the very few rare earths projects globally to have reached the DFS stage, with a full Environmental, Social, Health Impact Assessment (“ESHIA”) completed in compliance with IFC Performance Standards and The Global Industry Standard for Tailings Management (2020) (“GISTM”) adopted for design and management of the tailings storage facility.
· Long operating life of 18 years, with mining assumed to commence in February 2025, production ramping up from July 2025 and averaging 5,954 tonnes per year total rare earth oxides (“TREO”) for the first five years of full production (September 2025 – August 2030), including 1,953 tonnes per year of neodymium and praseodymium oxides, and 56 tonnes per year of dysprosium and terbium oxides, in a mixed rare earth carbonate (“MREC”) grading 55% TREO, generating nominal EBITDA of US$215 million per year.
· Neodymium, praseodymium, dysprosium and terbium are critical for the green transition, used in permanent magnets for electric vehicles, wind turbines and many electronic devices.
· Initial capital expenditure (“capex”) of US$277 million (excluding a US$34 million contingency) for development of mine, mill, flotation and hydrometallurgy plants, tailings storage facility, and related project infrastructure in Malawi.
· The NPV excludes any value attributable to the proposed Pulawy Rare Earth Separation Project (“Pulawy”) in Poland, which is expected to process MREC from Songwe, enabling Mkango to capture additional value via growing its integrated downstream business with a captive source of primary raw material feed from Songwe. The NPV also excludes any value attributable to Mkango’s interests in rare earth magnet recycling.
· The results of the DFS for an integrated project, comprising both Songwe and Pulawy, are expected to be announced when both the Mine Development Agreement (“MDA”) with the Malawi Government is completed for Songwe and the feasibility study is completed for Pulawy.
· In parallel, a major focus for the Company will be further optimisation of the Project with the objective of lowering capex and operating costs (“opex”), both of which have been negatively impacted by current market dislocations, creating the potential to reduce costs as markets stabilise.
The Company will host an investor conference call at 3pm UK time / 10am Eastern Time on Friday 8th July 2022. Please join the call at least 5 minutes before the booked start time to allow the operator to transfer you into the call by the scheduled start time:Canada toll free: 1 866 378 3566; UK toll free: 0808 109 0700; USA toll free: 1 866 966 5335; Password: Mkango DFS Results.
The DFS indicates a US$559.0 million post-tax NPV, using a 10% nominal discount rate, and 31.5% post-tax IRR for 100% of Songwe. The DFS is based on Songwe as a stand-alone project selling MREC as opposed to separated rare earth oxides and excludes Pulawy, which has potential to add significant downstream value. The financial analysis doesn’t reflect any changes to the fiscal regime that may be contained in the MDA that is currently being negotiated with the Government of Malawi. The Company plans to announce the results of the feasibility study for an integrated project comprising both Songwe and Pulawy (the “Integrated DFS”) when both the MDA is completed for Songwe and the feasibility study is completed for Pulawy.
With the release of the Songwe DFS and in anticipation of releasing the Integrated DFS, Mkango continues to advance ongoing discussions with potential strategic investors, development and commercial banks, and off-takers, working closely with its brokers, its project finance advisors, Terrafranca Capital Partners Ltd ( www.terrafranca.co.uk ), its United States strategic advisors, Jones Group International ( www.jonesgroupinternational.com ) and EIT RawMaterials ( www.eitrawmaterials.eu ) within the framework of the European Raw Materials Alliance.
During the week of 27th June 2022, the Company hosted site visits to Songwe for a number of major commercial and development banks.
Derek Linfield, Chairman of Mkango, stated : “This is a major milestone which few rare earth companies have been able to reach. It reflects the perseverance and outstanding work completed by our executive and management team since Project inception in 2010, as well as by our excellent team of international consultants, advisors and academic partners, in addition to the longstanding support of our local stakeholders and the Government of Malawi. We look forward to developing this exciting Project for the benefit of Malawi and our shareholders.”
William Dawes, Chief Executive of Mkango, stated: “Songwe is the cornerstone of Mkango’s Mine, Refine, Recycle strategy, underpinning development of the proposed Pulawy separation plant in Poland and complementing our interests in rare earth magnet recycling in the UK and Germany via HyProMag. The DFS is a major step forward for the Company, uniquely positioning Mkango as a future supplier of both mined and recycled rare earths for the green transition, against a backdrop of a very strong demand and pricing outlook.”
Alexander Lemon, President of Mkango, stated: “Mkango is pleased to announce this major milestone for the Company, and looks forward to finalising the Mining Development Agreement with the Government of Malawi. This Project is transformational for Malawi, and Mkango welcomes the very strong support it is receiving from all stakeholders. Songwe will catalyse a new industrial revolution in Malawi, creating employment opportunities and producing high value-added exports, as well as further unlocking Malawi’s mineral potential and new infrastructure developments .”
Summary of Selected Financial Inputs and Corresponding Results – Post-Tax Valuation
1 Assumes project start ie start capital expenditure March 2023 and start of full production September 2025
Mkango appointed SENET, a DRA Global company, as the principal consultant to complete the DFS. SENET is a leading engineering, procurement and construction management (EPCM) minerals processing and project delivery firm located in Africa. Other primary consultants for the DFS included the following:
· Geology, Mineral Resource, and Geotechnical Investigation: The MSA Group (Pty) Ltd (“MSA”)
· Mining: Bara Consulting (Pty) Ltd (“Bara”)
· Comminution: Grinding Solutions Limited (“Grinding Solutions”), Keramos
· Process Plant including On-Site and Off-Site Infrastructure: SENET, a DRA Global Company (“SENET”)
· Hydrometallurgy: Australian Nuclear Science and Technology Organisation (“ANSTO”)
· Flotation: KYSPY Investments (Pty) Ltd (” KYSPYmet”) , ALS Metallurgy (Pty) Ltd (“ALS Metallurgy”)
· Tailings Storage Facility (TSF): Epoch Resources (Pty) Ltd (“Epoch”)
· Environmental, Social and Health Impact Assessment (ESHIA): Digby Wells and Associates (Pty) Ltd (“Digby Wells Environmental”), Kongiwe Environmental (Pty) Ltd
· Geochemistry: SGS Australia (Pty) Ltd
· Geotechnical testwork: Western Geotechnical and Laboratory Services
· Logistics: C. Steinweg Bridge (Pty) Ltd
The DFS is based on a conventional open pit contract mining operation, feeding mills, flotation and hydrometallurgy plants on site in Malawi to produce a MREC, with an operating life (mining and processing) of 18 years with mining expected to commence in February 2025, processing expected to ramp up from July 2025 and full production expected from September 2025. The Company believes there is potential to increase the mine life given the additional Inferred Resource, the potential to expand the Mineral Resource, and the exploration potential from the nearby Nkalonje project. The DFS supports the declaration of a Proven and Probable Mineral Reserve Estimate of 18.1 million tonnes grading 1.16% TREO.
Energy supply for the Project comprises a 24 MW solar facility supplemented with grid power, which in Malawi is largely from hydroelectric sources. The Company is also evaluating wind power to further enhance and diversify the renewable power mix.
Songwe features broad zones of outcropping rare earth mineralisation on the northern slopes of a steep sided hill. The annual processing capacity is assumed to be approximately 1.0 million tonnes per year of ore with a view to producing an average of 5,954 tonnes of TREO in MREC per year for the first five years and 4,081 tonnes of TREO in MREC per year in years 6 to 18. The MREC will be cerium depleted. Because cerium is currently considered to have challenging market fundamentals, there is a strong economic rationale to remove as much cerium as possible and, as a result, a large proportion of the cerium will be removed from the MREC during the hydrometallurgical process. Confirmation of the flotation and hydrometallurgical processing flow sheets was underpinned by seven piloting campaigns at ALS Metallurgy and ANSTO.
The final stage of hydrometallurgical piloting at ANSTO produced MREC grading 55% TREO equivalent, enriched in neodymium and praseodymium (“Nd/Pr”) oxides, which together made up 31% of the rare earth oxide content in the carbonate product (i.e. Nd/Pr oxides / TREO = 31%).
The MREC produced from Songwe is expected to be a high value product (averaging US$32,816 per tonne (real 2022 US dollars)) for the first full five years of production based on pricing estimates from Adamas Intelligence and will be exported via largely existing infrastructure. The Project is connected by road to Blantyre, the largest commercial centre in Malawi, located approximately 70 km away, which has a rail head and international airport.
There have been significant improvements to local infrastructure in recent months. The Malawi Roads Authority has upgraded an existing government road from nearby Migowi to the Songwe Hill project site. To date, 12 km of an existing 15 km government dirt track has been upgraded and widened to an all-weather gravelled road with new reinforced concrete culverts, embankments and bridges installed.
The MREC is expected to be shipped to the proposed Pulawy project in Poland for separation. The DFS is based on selling the MREC rather than separated products. As a result, a 27% discount was applied to the forecasted value of rare earths contained in the MREC (discount equivalent to approximately US$22.07 per kilogram (real 2022 US dollars) of TREO in MREC for first full five years of production to reflect the discount that would be applied for MREC product versus the value of the underlying separated rare earth oxides (“REO”). A significant proportion of this discount is expected to be captured in the Pulawy separation plant. It is envisaged that the Pulawy plant will sell separated neodymium, praseodymium and / or didymium (NdPr) oxides as well as a heavy rare earth enriched carbonate and a lanthanum cerium carbonate, thereby capturing more of the value of the underlying REOs. Subject to the results of the Pulawy feasibility study, Mkango is targeting a separation cost of less than US$3 per kilogram of TREO in MREC (based on the rare earth distribution below) to produce this product suite at Pulawy, with a capex for the separation plant targeted at approximately US$120 million.
A summary of the key outputs of the DFS is presented in the tables below:
About Mkango Resources Limited
Mkango’s corporate strategy is to develop new sustainable primary and secondary sources of neodymium, praseodymium, dysprosium and terbium to supply accelerating demand from electric vehicles, wind turbines and other clean technologies. This integrated Mine, Refine, Recycle strategy differentiates Mkango from its peers, uniquely positioning the Company in the rare earths sector.
Mkango is developing the Songwe Hill rare earths project in Malawi. Malawi is known as “The Warm Heart of Africa”, a stable democracy with existing road, rail and power infrastructure, and new infrastructure developments underway.
In parallel, Mkango and Grupa Azoty PULAWY, Poland’s leading chemical company and the second largest manufacturer of nitrogen and compound fertilizers in the European Union, have agreed to work together towards development of a rare earth Separation Plant at Pulawy in Poland (the “Pulawy Separation Plant”). The Pulawy Separation Plant will process the purified mixed rare earth carbonate produced at Songwe Hill.
Through its ownership of Maginito (www.maginito.com), Mkango is also developing green technology opportunities in the rare earths supply chain, encompassing neodymium (NdFeB) magnet recycling as well as innovative rare earth alloy, magnet, and separation technologies. Maginito holds a 42% interest in UK rare earth (NdFeB) magnet recycler, HyProMag (www.hypromag.com), with an option to increase its interest to 49%. Mkango holds 100% of rare earth recycler Mkango Rare Earths UK Limited.
Mkango also has an extensive exploration portfolio in Malawi, including the Mchinji rutile exploration project, the Thambani uranium-tantalum-niobium-zircon project and Chimimbe nickel-cobalt project.
For more information, please visit www.mkango.ca
For further information on Mkango, please contact:
Mkango Resources Ltd
William Dawes Alexander Lemon
Chief Executive Officer President
Canada: +1 403 444 5979
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