25 Apr 2018 10:10am
WINDHOEK, 25 APR (NAMPA) Last years Mining Expo and Conference contributed to improved commodity markets, leading to a renewed interest in Namibias exploration sector and an increase in the number of active projects in the country.
This is according to Chamber of Mines of Namibia President Johan Coetzee, who spoke during the chambers 39th Annual General Meeting in the capital on Tuesday.
Coetzee said in 2017, Namibia Rare Earths established a strategic partnership with Gecko Namibia, which was finalised in February 2018.
The partnership comprised a combined portfolio of high-tech commodities which include heavy rare earths such as zinc, graphite, copper, among others, he said.
These projects vary from greenfield projects (not constrained by prior work) to projects in the mining licence application stage.
Coetzee further mentioned the Lofdal Rare Earths deposit in northern Namibia as one of the most significant projects, as it contains one of the most meaningful and unknown resources of heavy rare earths worldwide.
Although prices of heavy rare earths are expected to increase significantly in the short-term, development of this project is pending mining licence approval, he said, adding that he hoped this process would be fast-tracked.
An environmental clearance certificate for the project was issued in December 2017.
In response, Minister of Mines and Energy Tom Alweendo advised that a delay in acquiring licences and other processes should not hinder the finding of more minerals.
He also gave his assurance that the ministry would attend to the matter.
Rare earth metals are important in the development of green technologies and are often used in electronics like laptops and smartphones, as well as spacecraft and missile weaponry.
Heavy rare earth metals are less common and some elements within the group face shortages as demand outpaces supply. That makes them more valuable than light rare earths.