Ngualla rare earths elements project – Darren Townsend, CEO of ASX-listed rare earths junior company Peak Resources, delivers a compelling investment case for the company’s Ngualla rare earth elements (REE) project in Tanzania. 54% of REE market demand (by value) comprises two metals – neodymium and praseodymium – which also happen to be the project’s two key focus elements. This ‘rare’ feature has gained the company two major investors and sufficient capital to fund the project through to bankable feasibility study (BFS) completion in 2016, writes Laura Cornish. 

Peak Resources’ field team, 2014 field season
Peak Resources’ field team, 2014 field season

Could Peak Resources be the first company in Africa to bring its REE project online? If it meets its 2018 production target, it could be.

The junior REE sector in Africa is ripe with companies looking to develop their projects and start producing. But despite years and years of development work and investment, no company has yet to move into project construction and subsequently production.

Peak Resources has its sights set on being one of the first to advance its project to a confidence level which will see sufficient investment injected into the company to build the project. And if it continues to do so with the same momentum moving forward as it has delivered since the asset’s discovery, it is sure to succeed.

Situated in South West Tanzania, Townsend says the deposit was only discovered in August 2010, making it a fairly recent discovery. “Our chairman, who was responsible for bringing the asset into the company, was looking for phosphate and at the time assayed the tenement for all elements. And so Ngualla was discovered.”

In the space of four years Peak Resources has taken the project from discovery through to pre-feasibility study (PFS) and financing for the bankable feasibility study (BFS). “Rare earth projects can take a long time to get up and running but this one has moved quickly,” says Townsend. “Primarily due to the nature of mineralisation (Ngualla is ‘metallurgically’ more favourable than many other deposits around the world) as well as our team who are very focused and capital efficient.” With a project on the brink of BFS commencement, the A$18 or 19 million spent to date to reach this point is impressive, “As opposed to a couple of $100 million as would be more traditionally expected.”

A ‘rare’ position within the rare earths market

The magnet metals market has one of the strongest growth rates within the REE sector – growing at an average rate of about 7% per annum – and driven largely by their standard automobile and electronic uses (61% base load). More exciting is their use in wind turbine…

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