Explorer buoyed by Malawi prospect

18th August 2023 By: Nadine Ramdass - Creamer Media Writer

Explorer buoyed by Malawi prospect

ASIMWE KABUNGA Recently declared mineral resource estimates places Kangankunde among the world’s largest rare earths deposits

ASX-listed exploration firm Lindian Resources has made several major recent advancements at its Kangankunde rare earth mining project in Malawi. In early August, Lindian declared its maiden mineral resource estimate (MRE) of 261-million tonnes averaging 2.19% total rare earth oxides (TREO).

The MRE places Kangankunde among the world’s largest rare earths deposits, and positions it as a globally strategic resource for future long-term rare earths supply, says Lindian Resources executive chairperson Asimwe Kabunga.

Lindian’s resource upgrade follows the completion of a $35-million capital raise in July. The funds raised facilitated the third tranche payment of $10-million for the 100% acquisition of Rift Valley Resource Developments – the full owner of the Kangankunde project, he says.

The capital raise attracted strong demand and “leaves the company fully funded to advance several key project initiatives over the next 12 months,” adds Kabunga.

Near-term operational priorities include the construction of the on site Stage 1 processing plant, with commissioning and operations planned for late 2024.

The plant will comprise a mobile screening and crushing operation, and a milling circuit, with an initial forecast throughput of up to 440 000 t/y to produce monazite concentrate.

“With the potential size of this project, we think Kangankunde can contribute to the establishment of Malawi as a leading resources jurisdiction that can attract international investment,” Kabunga says.

Lindian has a portfolio of fully-owned Africa-based exploration projects comprising bauxite assets, in Guinea, as well as Kangankunde, its 2022 acquisition. The group’s recent focus has been on Kangankunde and the ongoing drilling programme, which started in October 2022.

The declaration of a maiden MRE at Kangankunde follows consistently strong drill results throughout 2023 to-date, and will be followed by project developments planned for the second half of this year.

Kabunga says the maiden MRE marks a “key milestone” for Lindian, and positions the company as a major player in the global rare earths sector.

“We can confidently claim Kangankunde is one of the world’s largest rare earths projects, with superior tonnage and excellent TREO grades,” Kabunga says.

As well as a high percentage of the critical metal elements neodymium-praseodymium, the material at Kangankunde is also unique in that it is non-radioactive.

This quality “makes the resource highly attractive to future off-take partners, many of which have already expressed an interest in Kangankunde’s material”, Kabunga says.

Exploration Target
Along with its maiden MRE at the start of August, Lindian also reported initial assay results for its Phase 2 deep-drill programme, which confirmed Kangankunde’s high-grade rare earths mineralisation continues at depth.

The two-hole drill programme tested rare earth element mineralisation to a depth of 1 000 m. Initial assays showed that Kangankunde’s mineralisation extends at least 850 m vertically, with mineralisation that reinforces Kangankunde’s “massive scale and grade”, Kabunga says.

Ongoing assay results from the Phase 2 drill programme will form the basis of a broader exploration target at Kangankunde which is scheduled for release in the third quarter. Lindian’s near-term operational focus will also include future mine production and infrastructure planning.

Operationally, Kabunga reiterates that Kangankunde is unique among rare earths projects because the mineralisation continues to be nonradioactive, with low levels of thorium and uranium radionuclides throughout all drill intervals. This reduces the environmental footprint of downstream processing.

Further, Lindian has encountered few obstacles in Malawi, whether at operational or broader policy level.

The project has been managed in partnership with local, skilled workers, including geologists and engineers, with strong support from federal and regional governments.

He notes that Kangankunde’s success requires direct involvement from local investors, community stakeholders and government policy makers.

In this regard, Kabunga credits the rapid start of Lindian’s drill programme after its being acquired, and the strong execution of all exploration activities, to how streamlined the process has been in Malawi.

“This project speaks volumes about Malawi’s attractiveness as a resources jurisdiction, and that is reflected by the strong interest we have already received from global investors and potential offtake partners,” he notes.

Guinea Bauxite Projects
Lindian’s asset portfolio in Guinea comprises over one-billion tonnes of bauxite resources across the Gaoual, Lelouma and Woula projects, all in north-western Guinea.

Following a multi-year period of engagement for its Gaoual project, Lindian signed a six-year supply agreement for 23-million wet tonnes of bauxite with logistics company C&D Logistics Group in May.

“The supply agreement with C&D Logistics is a measure of the ongoing interest in our Guinea portfolio,” says Kabunga.

The agreement adds balance-sheet strength to Lindian’s bauxite operations and will help fast-track the development of Gaoual, as discussions with C&D Logistics on funding the project through prepayment arrangements have started.

“Gaoual is a very special project and has very high-grade conglomerate bauxite from surface, which is very sought-after,” says Kabunga.