Lofdal project eases ahead with test work completion

• By Hilary Mare

NAMIBIA Critical Metals (NCM) has successfully completed hydrometallurgical test work to develop a flowsheet capable of producing a high-grade rare earth oxide product from a xenotime flotation concentrate from its Lofdal heavy rare earths project in Namibia. 

This development follows the granting of a mining licence for the project in July.

“This will allow us to advance an updated assessment of large-scale and integrated rare earth production towards a high-purity rare earth oxide product in Namibia,” NCM president Darrin Campbell says.

The Lofdal deposit is one of only two primary xenotime projects under development in the world.

It is being developed in a joint venture with Japan Oil, Gas and Metals National Corporation, targeting a long-term, sustainable supply of heavy rare earths to Japan.

NCM’s lead metallurgical consultants at SGS Minerals Services Canada have simplified the final process stage with an acid bake to crack the mineral xenotime, to purify the pregnant leach solution and to precipitate a rare earth oxalate, which subsequently calcined to form a product containing greater than 98 percent total rare earth oxides.

The acid bake process and concurrent removal of impurities is highly efficient and resulted in a 95 percent recovery of dysprosium and terbium in the leaching operation of the processing flow sheet, NCM notes.

It says the high-quality product is practically free of typical deleterious elements like thorium and uranium.

“These very positive test results are another big milestone for the Lofdal project and show that we are on the right path towards establishing that Lofdal can produce a valuable heavy rare earth product.

Namibia Critical Metals holds a diversified portfolio of exploration and advanced stage projects focused on the development of sustainable and ethical sources of metals for the battery, electric vehicle and associated industries.

On January 27, 2020 the Company announced that it had signed an agreement with Japan Oil, Gas and Metals National Corporation (“JOGMEC”) to jointly explore, develop, exploit, refine and/or distribute mineral products from Lofdal.

In July this this year, the Company also announced that the mining licence (ML 200) was issued for the Lofdal Heavy Rare Earth Dysprosium-Terbium Project by the Ministry of Mines and Energy. The mining licence is valid for a 25-year period through to May 2046 and is issued to the company’s 100 percent owned subsidiary, Namibia Rare Earths (Pty) Ltd.

Certain conditions of the mining licence are that there be a minimum 20 percent representation of historically disadvantaged Namibians in the management structure, including the board of the applicant holding the license and that at least five percent of the voting shares in the applicant be held by historically disadvantaged Namibians.

The company has initiated the restructuring of the management and shareholdings of its Namibian subsidiary to comply with these conditions.