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Firm ferries rare earth for testing

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By Francis Namondwe:

Canadian dual-listed mining firm, Mkango Resources Limited, has started sending a consignment of 60 tonnes of Rare Earths samples for testing in Australia as part of the exploration process to complete its feasibility study.

The firm is exploring the mineral at Songwe Hill in Phalombe District.

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On Monday, the mining company started moving rocks from Songwe to Blantyre, ready for ferrying to Australia via Nacala in Mozambique.

The metallurgical test work is an essential component of the exploration process in order to complete the bankable feasibility study, including the design of a processing plant for the Songwe Hill project

Mkango Resources Country Director, Burton Kachinjika, said the company was delighted to see the project progressing.

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“When the samples are taken to Australia, they will be put in a test pilot processing plant so that we can estimate recovery factors and optimise the design of the future processing plant which will be built at the mine site.

“The process is aimed at making sure that, before we construct a processing plant and mine, we can be 100 percent certain that we will be able to get the rare earths out of the rock profitably,” Kachinjika said.

Phalombe District Commissioner Memory Kaleso, newly elected Member of Parliament for Phalombe North East Constituency Dennis Namachekecha, Director of Geological Survey, Chief Mining Engineer from the Mines department in Blantyre as well as civil society organisations representatives witnessed the loading process.

Kaleso said the district expects to reap the most from the project.

She said Mkango had been transparent in the process.

“We have jointly worked with Mkango from the beginning to this level, we have had a number of consultative meetings, and we had Full Council meetings, so we are very aware of what is happening here.

“Mkango has also taken the initiative to help the communities through educational support to three primary schools, school feeding programmes, secondary school Scholarships, provision and repair of water boreholesas well as road and bridge infrastructure repairs and building,” Kaleso said.

Exploration work at Songwe Hill began in 2010 and the results of the bulk sample tests will help complete the bankable feasibility study which in turn will determine the future of the project.

Acting Director of geological survey in the Ministry of Natural Resources, Energy and Mining, Kondwani Dombola, said the testing was critical in the exploration process.

Dombola furher said the 60 tonnes, which represent 60, 000 kilogrammes, are only 1.6 percent of the rock that contains the Rare Earths.

Mkango is exploring Rare Earths elements and associated minerals in Songwe, Thambani and Chimimbe Hills in Malawi.

Over $30 million has been invested in the project since 2010.

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