Defense Metals engages Hatch, SRK for Wicheeda rare earths PFS, British Columbia

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Defense Metals Corp. [DEFN-TSXV; DFMTF-OTCQB; 35D-FSE] has engaged Hatch Ltd. and SRK Consulting (Canada) Inc. as principal consultants for the completion of a preliminary feasibility study (PFS) regarding its 100%-owned Wicheeda rare earth element (REE) project located near Prince George, Canada.

SRK is one of four key consultants chosen by Defense Metals to facilitate the PFS and will take the lead role as overall coordinator of the NI 43-101 PFS report, as well as handling the mining and tailings scope of work with support from APEX Geoscience Ltd., Defense Metals’ exploration, geology, and resource consultants. Hatch will focus on rare earth element (REE) concentrating and hydrometallurgical processes and plant facilities, and both capital and operating costs. One-eighty Consulting Group Inc. will be responsible for the environmental studies, permitting, and social or community impact scope.

Hatch and SRK, as directed by Defense Metals, have agreed to a partition of responsibilities that allows each group to focus on their strengths.

SRK is uniquely positioned to advance the Wicheeda Project given their prior involvement in both an extensive scenario analysis evaluation conducted in 2021 and the preliminary economic assessment (PEA) completed by them in 2021 and published in 2022. SRK will build upon the knowledge gained in these studies and improve upon the analyses completed then, to create an optimal development plan for the Wicheeda Project. SRK will focus on resource estimation, geotechnical engineering, mining engineering, tailings management, and economic analysis. Added scope for SRK in the PFS includes the project lead, risk assessment, surface water management, contact water treatment and environmental geochemistry.

Hatch will be responsible for the process design including the concentrator and hydrometallurgical plants as well as the infrastructure for mining, tailings, and other processing areas. Both SRK and Hatch have extensive experience and knowledge of working in the REE sector.

SRK Consulting is an independent, international group providing specialized consultancy services.

Defense Metals’ 100%-owned, 6,759-hectare (~16,702-acre) Wicheeda Project is located approximately 80 km northeast of Prince George, British Columbia. The Wicheeda REE Project is readily accessible by all-weather gravel roads and is near infrastructure, including hydro power transmission lines and 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 outlined a robust after-tax net present value (NPV@8%) of $517 million and an 18% IRR1. This PEA contemplated an open pit mining operation with a 1.75:1 (waste:mill feed) strip ratio providing a 1.8 Mtpa (million tonnes per year) mill throughput producing an average of 25,423 tonnes 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 $440 million initial capital within 5 years.

Independent Preliminary Economic Assessment for the Wicheeda Rare Earth Element Project, British Columbia, Canada, dated January 6, 2022, with an effective date of November 7, 2021, and prepared by SRK Consulting (Canada) Inc. is filed under Defense Metals Corp.’s Issuer Profile on SEDAR.

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