Early next year, investors and observers of New Age Metals will have a better idea of what an open-pit palladium east of Sudbury will look like.
The Rockport, Ont. company has hired four engineering firms to start a pre-feasibility study of its River Valley Palladium Project, 100 kilometres east of the city.
The study will be carried out over the next eight to 12 months. Work on the report begins this month with completion slated by the end of the first quarter of 2022.
On its 15,800-acre property, 20 kilometres north of the village of River Valley, the company is proposing a $495-million bulk mining operation out of a series of open pits that would produce 119,000 ounces of palladium a year over a 14-year mine life.
The company has been billing River Valley as one of North America’s largest undeveloped platinum group metals projects.
The main use of palladium is in the auto industry for catalytic convertors. Most of the world’s palladium supply is mined in South Africa and Russia.
P&E Mining Consultants will be the project lead in producing an updated mineral resource update, doing all the mine planning, and the economic analysis of a mine.
SGS Canada and D.E.N.M. Engineering will do the mineral processing and metallurgical test work, including examining recoveries of platinum, gold, copper, nickel, rhodium and cobalt.
Rhodium is the rarest of all the platinum group metals. Used mostly in automobile catalytic converters, the price of the metal is in excess of US$25,000 an ounce.
Knight-Piésold Consulting will do the design of the waste dumps, tailings facility and open-pit geotechnical engineering.
Story Environmental is handling the baseline environmental studies; relationships with local governments, communities and First Nations; and permit applications and approvals.
The company said a memorandum of understanding is in place with a local First Nation.
In an April 12 statement, New Age (NAM) Chairman and CEO Harry Barr is pleased to have "assembled such an impressive team" for the study.
"These firms will work together with NAM to optimize the value of the River Valley Palladium Project, by maximizing the economic aspects while minimizing the environmental impacts and benefitting the local communities. The River Valley Project will be very well-timed for the green metal revolution.”
The last resource estimate at River Valley, released in 2019, show 2.9 million ounces of palladium equivalent (both measured and indicated) and 1.1 million ounces in the inferred category.
In laying out their last mining scenario, New Age’s plan was to develop a series of 14 open pits, starting on the northwest corner of the deposit and progress in a southeasterly direction over a 16-kilometre mineralized strike length. There are four identified zones of mineralization on the property.
A proposed mine complex would include a crusher and concentrator with the concentrated material trucked to Sudbury for smelting and refining.