Nairobi, Kenya — MININGREVIEW.COM — 06 January 2012 – Canadian firm Cortec Mining Kenya (CMK) has secured a three-year extension for its rare earths and niobium minerals prospecting licence, which is expected to give the company more time to analyse the deposits.
The Special Prospecting Licence (SPL) for the deposits, valued at over US$3.1 billion, obtained the renewal of the licence from the Commissioner of Mines and Geology. It is set to expire in November 2014.
Acting commissioner for mines and geology Moses Masibo said the extension was necessary to give it time to establish the existence of mineable quantities since the exercise is capital-intensive.
“We are mandated to keep renewing prospecting licences until a definitive feasibility study that can accurately give the quantity of the minerals,” said Masibo, adding that special prospecting licences for firms such as Cortec can be extended for up to 10 years.
Pacific Wildcat Resources Corp (PAW), which has signed a contract to acquire 70% of the minerals, has also made an application for a special mining licence (SML) to the Ministry of Environment and Mineral Resources for the Mrima Hill niobium and rare earths.
The rare earth and niobium minerals extend beyond 100m below the surface and not just 30m as previously indicated. PAW announced plans to raise up to US$6 million to fund its exploration activities in Kenya and Mozambique.
Niobium is mixed with steel to create a strong alloy used in the manufacture of pipes for water and sewage systems and components used in various types of vehicles. Alloys from niobium and steel are also used in the creation of welding rods and several stainless steel products used in homes.
Niobium has also become popular in the production of optical lenses. Rare earths are crucial in making high-tech electronics products such as specialised miniature nuclear batteries, laser repeaters, super conductors and miniature magnets.