By Bester Kayaye
ASX-listed Lindian Resources says it is pleased with the support it is getting from the Malawi Government and the people of Malawi including traditional leaders and the local community to pursue the Kangankunde Rare Earth project in Balaka district.
Lindian made the announcement in a Press Statement following a series of meetings its management team comprising Chairman Asimwe Kabunga and CEO Alistair Stephens convened in Malawi after the Company agreed terms to acquire 100% interest in local tenement holder for Kangankunde, Rift Valley Resource Developments.
Meeting with Malawi’s Ministry of Mining
Stephens reports in the statement that in a meeting, the Malawi Ministry of Mining reaffirmed its commitment to Lindian’s 100% acquisition of Rift Valley Resource Developments Limited and its fully tenured mining licence, and 100% owned Kangankunde projects.
He also says the Ministry’s representatives who included Ministry of Mining Honourable Dr Albert Mbawala MP and Principal Secretary Dr Joseph Mkandawire confirmed Malawi Government’s enthusiastic support to Lindian’s acquisition and development plans for the Kangankunde project. Also present at the meeting was Mr John Nkhoma, Rift Valley Resource Developments Limited’s Principal Geologist.
“The Ministry was provided an update to the acquisition of Rift Valley by Lindian, to which the Government maintained its position of support,” says Stephens.
Meeting with Local District Authorities
Subsequent to the meeting with the Ministry of Mining, Stephens reports that Lindian met with the local area authorities in Balaka District which covers the Kangankunde area at the District Council offices, located 14km north-east of Kangankunde, to introduce the Company’s development program.
“It was agreed that a full meeting of all the relevant local delegates representing all aspects of local district development programs would be arranged. The representatives present remain eager to see the development of Kangankunde and the opportunities for community development programmes that provide community support and growth,” he says.
Meeting with the Traditional Senior Chief
Kabunga and Stephens also met with Traditional Authority (TA) for the area, Senior Chief Chanthunya, to introduce the Company and the development plans for Kangankunde.
Stephens reports that Chief Chanthunya remained positive about the opportunities but stressed that he wished to see real development on the mine and not talk of opportunity or repetitive sampling programs.
Kabunga and Stephens, however, made clear Lindian’s intent to develop the project as soon as practical in a fully informed, open and honest process that would make full consideration of the broader community development needs.
Meeting with Local Area Chief
Lindian met with the local area chief, Chief Makolela, for the Kangankunde Project area. Stephens reports that the Chief stated that she was delighted that they had come to meet her and that she wished to see development and jobs for her people.
Kabunga and Stephens stated that the Company wished to be endorsed by the community as a good neighbour and that it would work honestly, faithfully, and constructively to ensure community development in a fully engaged process.
Kangankunde Site Visit
Whilst in the country, the Lindian team also visited the Kangankunde site ahead of commencement of first works program.
The site visit included visitation to the old underground workings (the adit entrance) and infrastructure that remained around the mine workings. Stephens says mineralisation was seen in the hill side for about 75 metres in width.
“The site review included the crusher wall infrastructure and an area suitable for a plant location. A nearby laydown area was suitable for plant support facilities,” he says.
- Hill top Mineralisation
Stephens states that on a traverse walk up the Kangankunde Hill, carbonatite monazite mineralisation was seen in thick veins (up to 15 metres wide) close to the old plant facility. Additional veins were also seen up the side of the hill. Near the top, an area of extensive agglomerate was mapped beside an extensive area of carbonatite mineralisation with visible coarse-grained monazite.
The monazite was crystalline, up to 15cm in length, but typically 1.7cm to 1.5cm, and green in colour and samples have been taken for analysis. In the northern part of the hill, in an area of dolomitic carbonatite, old drill pads and pits were visible in mineralisation that extended from 50 metres to 75 metres in width and 200 metres to 300 metres long. To the south, an area of intense iron mineralisation in carbonatite was visible.
- Site Civil Infrastructure
Stephens explains that the visit included a rudimentary assessment of infrastructure needed for site operations, and there were no topographic impediments to a new site access road about 4.5km in length from the M1 to the old plant operations location.
He observes that an old power-line that was once present was dismantled but easy to re-establish, and that another area sighted was deemed suitable for a water dam.
He says the Company was informed that it may be possible to establish a water pipe pumping fresh river water from the Shire River 25 km to the east. The Shire River is Malawi’s largest river, the only outlet of Lake Malawi, and extends for 400 km before joining the Zambezi River. It typically flows at a rate between 50m3 per second to 1000m3 per second, for an average rate of 43 billion litres per day. Lake Malawi is the fifth largest fresh water lake in the world, about 570 Km long, 75 Km wide and up to 700 metre deep.
Malawi has eight hydroelectric power generation stations generating a total of 360MW of power, three planned hydroelectric power generation projects (totalling 720MW), one thermal 300MW power station and 150MW of planned solar power generation.
Planned Site Activities
Mr Stephens returned to Malawi in the second half of September to present to the full committee of the Balaka District Development Committees the Company’s plans to conduct site aerial topographic survey, re-establishing site access tracks, establishing drill pads, and a drill program this year.
A geophysical gravity survey has been postponed till next year due to the necessity to clear lines through thick grass.
Stephens comments: “We have wasted no time getting on the ground in Malawi and assessing the Kangankunde Project and its potential. We have also held extensive discussions with Government, regional representatives and other critical stakeholders – all of which are supportive of developing Kangankunde. As such, we are now actively advancing the planned Quarter 4 works program.
“I started this role stating that Kangankunde is the world’s best undeveloped rare earths project. It is now becoming the world’s best developing rare earth project. My work has only just begun, and I look forward to leading the Company on this journey of development in what I believe will present as the best opportunity for a rare earths project ever.”
Located in the Southern Region of Malawi, 100km north of Blantyre and 9km from the Nacala rail corridor, the Kangankunde project is touted to be a globally significant rare earth deposit.
Whilst the carbonatite mineralisation was first discovered in 1907, the importance of rare earth mineralization within the deposit was not noted until the early 1950s. Since then, the project has had several phases of exploration, with the most comprehensive geological and process test work completed between 1987 and 1990 by the French geoscience organisation Bureau de Récherches Géologiques et Minières (BRGM).
The Kangankunde deposit has a previously reported Inferred Resource of 107,000 tonnes of Rare Earths Oxide (REO) at an average grade of 4.24% TREO (“total rare earth oxide”) in 2.53 million tonnes of mineralisation, using a cut-off grade of 3.5% TREO1. The mineralisation is exposed at surface and the deposit remains open at depth. Historic metallurgical testwork has demonstrated the mineralisation is amenable to low-cost gravity separation to produce a high-grade concentrate.
Reducing the cut-off grade to 3% TREO increases the Inferred resource to 180,000 tonnes at an average grade of 3.8%
The Kangankunde Hill rises to a height of up to 200m above the surrounding plain. The Kangankunde carbonatite occurs as discrete tabular bodies and carbonatite layers. Individual bodies are continuous over several hundred metres and have continuity between cross sections. The deposit contains a central zone of carbonatite rocks passing outwards to a series of broadly concentric zones of altered agglomerate, breccia, and ultimately into unaltered gneiss host rock.
Similar to many rare earth deposits, the main rare earth containing mineral in the deposit is monazite with minor amounts of bastnaesite.
The project tenure is secured by Mining Licence (ML 0290) valid to April 21, 2032 and allows an acceleration of work programmes to commercialisation; and prior to the commencement of the Malawian wet season the company intends to focus on re-establishing road access for drilling to assess the extent and grade of mineralisation.
The Company will also recover enough samples for metallurgical test work over the wet season.