The Asset – The Ngualla Rare Earth Deposit
Ngualla is one of the world’s largest and highest grade undeveloped neodymium (Nd) & praseodymium (Pr) rare earth projects.
The Ngualla Rare Earth Project is centred on the Ngualla Carbonatite in southern Tanzania, 147 kilometres from the city of Mbeya on the edge of the East African Rift Valley. The name ‘Ngualla’ comes from the Swahili word for ‘bald head’, which reflects the appearance of the hill – mostly bare land on which there is no habitation, agriculture, grazing or reserves.
The weathered Bastnaesite Zone that is the target for development occurs as a thick blanket of high grade rare earth mineralisation from surface on Ngualla Hill. Rare earths are contained within the mineral bastnaesite within a weathered host rock that contains very low levels of phosphate, carbonate, uranium and thorium compared to other rare earth deposits. This makes it easy-to-mine by low strip ratio open pit techniques and subsequently upgraded to a high grade processed concentrate through a multi stage processing plant on site.
The Total All Resources Mineral Resource estimate for the Ngualla Project above a 1% REO cut-off is 214.4 million tonnes at 2.15% REO, for 4,620,000 tonnes of contained REO. Included in this Mineral Resource is the Weathered Bastnaesite Zone Mineral Resource, the measured and indicated portions of which form the basis of the Ore Reserve estimate.
At a 1% REO lower grade cut-off the Mineral Resource estimate for the Weathered Bastnaesite Zone is 21.3 million tonnes at 4.75% REO, for 1,010,000 tonnes of contained REO. Details of the Mineral Resource estimate are contained within the ASX Announcement “Higher grade Resource for Ngualla nearly 1 million tonnes REO” as of 22 February 2016.
The Ore Reserve estimate for the Ngualla Project is 18.5 million tonnes at 4.80% REO for 887,000 tonnes of contained REO. ASX Announcement “Ngualla Rare Earth Project – Updated Ore Reserve” as of 12 April 2017 provides further details and assumptions. The Ore Reserve represents just 22% of the Total All Resources Mineral Resource but is sufficient to support a mine life of 26 years.
The Company plans to export approximately 32,700 tonnes per annum of rare earth concentrate grading 45% REO from Tanzania to the UK refinery.
Ngualla is also host to widespread, high grade niobium-tantalum, phosphate, fluorspar and barite mineralisation. These additional commodities are at an early stage of evaluation and represent potential upside opportunities for additional products from the project.
Tanzania is politically stable and has a well-established mining culture, being the fourth largest gold producer in Africa. Existing transport infrastructure together with a low tonnage, high value product will enable cost effective transport from Ngualla to the deep water port in Dar es Salaam.
Regarding the July 2017 legislation changes we would like to refer to following 3 Act documents:
- No. 5 Natural Wealth and Resources (Permanent Sovereignty) Act 2017
- No. 6 Review and Re-Negotiation of Unconscionable Terms Act 2017
- No. 7 The Written laws (Miscellaneous amendments) and Act 2017
For further updates on the subject, we like to refer to the official Tanzanian Governmental website.
The planned total capital expenditure in Tanzania as defined by the detailed BFS study and BFS Update is estimated at US $201 million including 15% contingency and 5% owners costs and we anticipate an annual operational expenditure of US $51 million.