Lofdal poised for mining licence

By Hilary Mare

THE Ministry of Mines and Energy has confirmed its desire to offer a mining licence for the Lofdal heavy rare earth project, a joint venture between Namibia Critical Metals and Japan Oil, Gas and Metals National Corporation (JOGMEC).

This was stated last week by Don Burton, president of Namibia Critical Metals who highlighted that the venture had received notice of preparedness to grant the application for a mining licence for Lofdal, adding that for the company, this was a very significant milestone.

“The company has lodged its acceptance of the mining licence and we await finalisation of the process from the ministry,” he added.

The project currently operates under Exclusive Prospecting Licence (EPL) 3400.

Lofdal is the most advanced project in Namibia Critical Metals’ portfolio with a 43-101 mineral resource estimate established in 2012 and a preliminary economic assessment completed in 2014. In 2016, the company completed an environmental impact assessment and was granted an environmental clearance certificate from the Ministry of Environment and Tourism in 2017.

The first systematic exploration for the company over Lofdal was initiated in 2008.

The Lofdal heavy rare earths project is located 450 kilometres northwest of Windhoek in the Kunene region. The project area covers 314 square kilometres centred on the Lofdal carbonatite complex which hosts a number of rare earth occurrences, including the Area 4 deposit and the Area 2B deposit. Mineralisation in both deposits is dominated by xenotime, which is highly enriched in heavy rare earths.

Speaking about the continued exploration at the project, Burton said: “Prices for dysprosium and terbium oxides continue to strengthen with dysprosium approaching US$300/kg and terbium surpassing US$1,100/kg. Continuing positive drill results from Area 2B are confirming the importance of this satellite deposit to add additional heavy rare earth mineral resources to the project. All term one drilling has been completed and we look forward to receiving results from the remaining forty-two holes in Area 2B and Area 4.”

Confidente understands that drilling has now established a strike length of 300 metres for mineralisation at Area 2B with multiple dysprosium zones defined on sections to a maximum vertical depth of 190 meters. The deposit remains open along strike to the northeast and to the southwest, and at depth.

Lofdal is unique as one of only two primary xenotime projects under development in the world, the other project being Browns Range in Australia. As demonstrated in the preliminary economic assessment, Lofdal has the potential for significant production of dysprosium and terbium, the two most valuable heavy rare earths used in high powered magnets. The joint venture with JOGMEC is driven by Lofdal’s potential to be a long term, sustainable supply of heavy rare earths for Japan.