Aterian’s exploration in southern Rwanda reveals rare-metal hosting targets

20th February 2023 By: Donna Slater - Features Deputy Editor and Chief Photographer

Twenty-two zones of potentially mineralised pegmatite have been identified at LSE-listed explorer and developer Aterian’s projects in southern Rwanda, confirming the presence of a number of rare-metal-hosting targets for future exploration and evaluation.

The company’s wholly-owned Rwandan subsidiary Eastinco is currently engaged in an initial three partnerships with local entities within Rwanda to explore and develop tantalum, niobium, tin and lithium opportunities.

Eastinco holds a trading licence, which will also facilitate the trading of metal concentrates within the region.

Fieldwork over the HCK-1 zone – where 67 vertical exploration pits (with a cumulative depth of 422 m) have been completed – indicates a strike length of about 2 500 m, with widths up to 100 m in places.

Going forward, Aterian is conducting a multi-method geophysical survey in preparation for the preliminary scout drilling programme to start in the second quarter.

“We will look to progress the project with bulk sampling for initial metallurgical test work and scout drilling on the HCK-1 prospect in the near term,” says Aterian chairperson Charles Bray.

In addition, Aterian is bolstering its business in Rwanda with the appointment of Godfrey Kamanzi as head of the company’s Rwandan metal trading business.

“Work is now well advanced in building a metal trading business based in Rwanda, aligned to Rwanda’s long-term mining sector objectives of improved mining and metal recovery efficiencies.

“Key hires have been made to lead the business and to ensure traceability compliance,” says Bray.

He explains that Kamanzi has extensive experience in the Rwandan minerals sector where he previously worked with consumer finance business RCS, Rand Merchant Bank and multiple mining companies managing tagging and traceability programmes.

Further, Aterian is undertaking partnership discussions with several artisanal mining parties to improve artisanal mining productivity through mechanisation, and to provide material to its metal trading business.

Aterian has also engaged online stakeholder management tool to support whistleblower management, social licence reporting and stakeholder engagement, as part of the ongoing obligation by Aterian to ethical supply chain management as a member of the ITSCI Programme for Responsible Mineral Supply Chains compliance.

Bray says the ITSCI membership demonstrates Aterian’s compliance with internationally recognised standards of sustainable supply chains. “Working in partnership with existing artisanal producers in Rwanda we expect to deliver substantial productivity gains that will benefit local communities as well as deliver increased material for our trading business.”

“Aterian is committed to its environmental, social and governance responsibilities, including respecting human rights and the avoidance of making any contribution to conflict through our mineral purchasing decisions and practices.

“[Using] the Organisation for Economic Cooperation and Development’s due diligence guidelines and supported by our ITSCI membership our mineral trading business will be compliant with international standards and work in synergy with our exploration business.

“Our joint venture relationships will produce mineral ores and generate revenue that supports our investment in exploration. A key strategic component of our Rwandan strategy has been to build a critical metals business with exploration options funded internally,” he says.