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Could rare earths peak in Tanzania?

The date of: 2021-07-16
viewed: 1

source:Mining technology

A fast-growing staple of the green energy revolution, rare earth elements are used to produce electric magnets found in everything from electric vehicles (EVs) to direct drive wind turbines. With tightening global emissions restrictions driving up demand for EVs, cashing in on deposits of rare earth materials is a savvy way to secure a seat at the table of the blossoming green economy, and finding alternative sources to China has become a priority amidst continued trade tensions.

Peak Resources’ Ngualla project is based on one of the largest and highest-grade undeveloped neodymium praseodymium (NdPr) deposits in the world, located in southern Tanzania. Rare earths remain a newly-emerging product and while deposits in Tanzania are high-grade, Peak Resources’ project marks the first rare earths mine in the country.

It has, however, been dogged with hurdles, including disputes between the government and gold miner Acacia, as well as a 2020 election that saw parliament change hands. Now, Peak is on the home stretch to receiving its mining license.

Rare earths in Tanzania

Tanzania has a strong mining history, as both Africa’s fourth-largest gold producer and a lucrative hub for precious materials such as diamond and tanzanite.

With the government hand-over, a new emphasis on mining has taken the driving seat, with the Ministry of Minerals reportedly turning its attention to boosting mining’s contribution to the GDP. The new administration is also seeking to enact mining companies’ right to mine, as well as Tanzania’s right to benefit from its mineral wealth.

A Bloomberg report found that the government intends to increase mineral earnings by 33% over the next three years, marking a revenue increase of up to Tsh701.1bn ($302m)between 2023 and 2024. With such a setup, the foundations have been established for Tanzania to see a boom in its mining fortunes, and Peak is in prime position to ride the wave.

“Tanzania is a very established mining jurisdiction,” says Bardin Davis, managing director of Peak Resources. “It has significant gold, diamond, and tanzanite projects in operation, as well as large-scale rare earth, graphite, and nickel development projects. It’s an incredibly attractive jurisdiction from a geological perspective.”

“Ngualla is one of the largest, highest-grade undeveloped NdPr deposits in the world,” he adds. “It has ore reserves with a grade of 4.8% that support an initial mine life of 26 years. The intention is to produce a high grade concentrate at Ngualla with a rare earth oxide grade of around 45%, which will then be shipped to our Teesside Rare Earth Refinery in the UK.”

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