HomeEast AfricaAltona Energy advances African rare earths strategy with new appointments

Altona Energy advances African rare earths strategy with new appointments

Altona Energy, a mining exploration company with a new strategic focus on rare earth element mining projects in African, has appointed two highly experienced consultants as it progresses its African rare earths strategy.

In May 2020, Altona Energy entered into a MoU with a mining consultancy company which has been granted the mining rights over a rare earth element (REE) project in southern Malawi. Altona is currently conducting a due diligence process which it expects to conclude by the end of September 2020.

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The appointments have been made to assist the company progress the proposed acquisition of Akatswiri Rare Earth, as announced on 2 June 2020 and also in consideration of further possible investments in similar rare earth element (REE) projects in Africa.

The board, taking note of the historic failings of Altona, is cognisant that to provide the best opportunity for success in developing highly technical mining projects, it needs to work closely, from day one, with a team of qualified advisers.

Gavin Beer (54), a metallurgist with more than 30 years’ experience in technical and operational roles, has been appointed to the position of consultant metallurgist. Beer has spent the past 13 years exclusively working within the rare earths and energy materials sector and has been employed by or has consulted to over 12 REE companies including Arafura Resources, Peak Resources, Hastings Technology Metals and Pensana Metals.

He is presently engaged by Neometals in the role of General Manager: metallurgy and has been retained by RareX and Hexagon Resources as a technical advisor.

Beer is a Member and Chartered Professional of the Australasian Institute of Mining and Metallurgy and is recognised as a Competent Person for JORC and as a Qualified Person for NI 43-101 with respect to his metallurgical expertise and is globally recognised as a leading metallurgical expert in the rare earth industry.

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Meanwhile, Cédric Simonet (47) has been appointed to the role of consultant geologist. Simonet holds a PhD in Geology and has 25 years’ experience exploring, developing and mining mineral deposits in Africa and in France. He was head geologist and open pit manager at SOGEREM fluorspar mine (Alcan, France) and Africa region manager with IGE Resources AB.

Simonet is a co-founder of Akili Minerals Services, a Nairobi-based exploration services company, and has been involved in several exploration projects on REE-carbonatites in Kenya including Ruri, Homa Mountain, Buru and Mrima. He is also a former chairman of the Kenya Chamber of Mines, and well experienced in operating in this and many other African countries.

Simonet is a member of the European Geologists Federation (Eur Geol no 739). He qualifies to act as a Competent Person (JORC) and as a Qualified Person (NI43-101) on REE-carbonatite exploration projects.

“We are delighted at the appointment of Gavin and Cedric to work alongside the board of Altona in their capacity as consultant metallurgist and geologist, respectively. Their collective experience provides a significant level of knowledge that should offer shareholders a high degree of comfort to the timely development of the projects into which we are embarking,” says Altona Energy interim CEO Christian Taylor-Wilkinson.

“The global increase in the demand for electric vehicles is driving demand for REEs, particularly neodymium and praseodymium (known commonly as ‘NdPr’), as well as other ‘technology’ metals which are used in permanent magnets, a key component in electric vehicle manufacturing. This evidence is, we believe, strong enough for Altona to pursue a strategy of investments in this sector,” adds Taylor-Wilkinson.

Altona Energy is also currently reviewing a number of other rare earth projects in Africa, where one of more may lead to an investment by Altona.