Australia-based Vital Metals has completed the definitive feasibility study (DFS) at its Watershed tungsten project in Queensland, which confirmed that the mine is technically feasible and economically viable, with a capital cost of A$172m ($155.9m).
The study showed that the deposit can be mined as an open cast mine, with mining activities conducted by excavator and truck.
The mine has ore reserves of 21.3 million tonnes (Mt) grading at 0.15% of tungsten trioxide for 31,400t of contained tungsten trioxide, and a total resource of 49.2Mt grading at 0.14% of tungsten trioxide for 70,400t of tungsten trioxide, at a cut-off grade of 0.05%.
The study revealed that the project could produce 2.5Mt of metal a year during the mine's ten-year life, with the possibility of increasing the life-of-mine through future exploration.
Operating costs for the Watershed project are estimated to average at A$56m ($50.7m) a year, with the entire project expected to generate revenues of A$1.08bn ($979m) in its lifetime.
The project's partner Japan Oil, Gas and Metals National (JOGMEC) has already consulted with many Japanese firms to move its 30% stake into a new joint venture partner that would have an offtake interest in the project.
Vital Metals managing director Mark Strizek was quoted by miningweekly.com as saying: "The process is already well under way and pending the successful transfer of Jogmec's interest and the completion of a suitable financing package for Vital's share of the development costs, we hope to start construction at Watershed in 2015 and have first ore production before the end of 2016."