Africa-focused mineral exploration company Globe Metals & Mining says production at its Kanyika niobium mine, in Malawi, will now start a year later than the initially scheduled start-up date of 2012 because of the exit of its partner, South Africa’s Thuthuka Group, which held a 25% stake.
“Our disagreements with Thuthuka, which resulted in its withdrawal from the Kanyika niobium project, slowed us down a bit,” says GM for Africa Dries Kruger.
“Our new target is to start production in 2013,” he says.
Thuthuka was expected to put up $10,6-million to finance a bankable feasibility study, but pulled out of the project following disagreements over aspects of the feasibility study. Kruger says that Globe, now the sole owner of the project, is using its own resources to finance the Kanyika feasibility study. However, the company is
exploring the possibility of roping in a new partner to help finance the study and the development of the project.
“Our head office, in Perth, Australia, is investigating financing options and I am told that some investors have shown interest in becoming our partners in the Kanyika project,” says Kruger.
One option that will be investigated as part of the bankable feasibility study is downstream processing, where Globe will establish a plant at Kanyika that will produce ferroniobium metal as the primary product. The ferroniobium product will account for up to 80% of total revenue. Tantalum and uranium oxide will be produced as by-products and will account for 15% and 5% of revenue respectively.
The Kanyika resource comprises 60-million tons, including three-million tons in the measured category, seven-million tons in the indicated catergory and 11-million tons in the inferred category at a cutoff grade of 3 000 parts per million (ppm) niobium oxide (Nb2O5). This includes seven-million tons of near-surface high-grade material at 4 700 ppm Nb2O5. The mine life is forecast to exceed 20 years, during which 3 000 t of niobium and 192 t of tantalum will be produced each year.