By Kari Williamson

The sale process was terminated after rising tungsten prices made a near-term restart of the mine asset much more attractive to EMC than at the time the asset was first offered for sale, the company says.

The Springer tungsten mine was constructed by the General Electric Company (GE) in the late 1970s, commissioned in 1981, and run for only a short period before being put on care and maintenance status due to weak tungsten prices. An EMC subsidiary bought the mine, resource and property assets in 2006, and EMC partially reconditioned the asset between 2006 and 2008, spending in excess of US$20 million on the surface facilities and resource drilling.

Recent review and updating of various re-start plans for the mine, coupled with current pricing levels and market supply dynamics for tungsten, present an encouraging picture on project re-start. Once back in operation, Springer Tungsten would represent the only significant tungsten production source (WO3, in concentrate) in the USA.

Initial work planned for Q2 2012 will include finalising capital refurbishment estimates, along with development of detailed multi-year mining plans, both for the Sutton I & II areas developed by GE, and also for other areas of the resource where early production may be facilitated. Various discussions are currently underway relating to financing the restart, as well as staffing key positions.

George Putnam, CEO of EMC comments: “Springer now represents a significant near term restart opportunity to generate revenue and profits for EMC at this 100% owned asset. We are excited about the longer-term prospects for tungsten demand and pricing, and the unique position Springer represents in the USA as a potential near-term producer of tungsten concentrates.”