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    Queensland tungsten mine to start production in 2014 − Vital

    By: Esmarie Swanepoel
    9th September 2011

    CAIRNS (miningweekly.com) − ASX-listed Vital Metals would likely produce its first tungsten concentrate from the Watershed project, in Queensland, by 2014.

    CEO Mark Strizek said on Friday that the company would complete an updated bankable feasibility study on the project by the end of 2012, with a final investment decision expected shortly thereafter.

    Vital placed the Watershed project on care and maintenance at the end of 2009, after the onset of the global financial crisis. However, before this time, it had completed a significant amount of work on project studies, including the completion of an initial prefeasibility study.

    The project has again become economical as the demand for tungsten increased, driven by the industrialisation in developing nations, such as China.

    China was expected to increase its demand for tungsten from its current 45% of global demand to around 70%, with the Asian giant likely to report a 16 000 t deficit by 2016.

    Speaking at the Watershed campsite, Strizek said that Vital was currently focused on updating the figures from the initial studies undertaken in 2008, and securing environmental and mining approvals to start operations.

    ?The most important thing for us is to complete the environmental approvals and get the authority to operate,? Stizek said on site.

    The previous feasibility studies have indicated that a capital investment of around A$70-million would be needed to fund a 610 000 t/y operation, delivering around 19 000 t of tungsten concentrate over an initial six year life-of-mine.

    Stizek noted that current bankable feasibility work would include a limited drilling programme, which was aimed at closing off the resource at the north of the deposit, and updating the resource modelling, as well as updating the cost modelling for the project.

    A scoping study would also be undertaken to investigate the possibility of an underground operation. In parallel, Vital would look to complete its environmental work on the Watershed project, which Strizek noted was the key to obtaining the mining licence.

    ?We look at this transition from explorer and developer to being a producer over only a couple of years, and this is a great place to be,? he added.

    The Watershed project is being developed in a joint venture with Japan?s Jogmec, which could earn a 30% interest in the project by sole funding the bankable feasibility study.

    Edited by: Mariaan Webb

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