Nairobi, Kenya – 19 April 2013 – The Mines and Geology department of Kenya has awarded a special mining licence for the exploration, development and mining of high grade niobium to Nairobi- based exploration company Cortec Mining Kenya (CMK).
The Mines and Geology department of Kenya has awarded a special mining licence for the exploration, development and mining of high grade niobium to Nairobi- based exploration company Cortec Mining Kenya (CMK).
Cortec, reports allAfrica.com, is scheduled to start production at its niobium project in south-eastern Kenya by 2016, said managing director David Anderson.
The company plans to invest about US$160 million to US$200 million to extend a drilling programme at its Mrima Hill prospect, to analyse samples and to build a mineral processing test plant within two years, he said in a phone interview from the Kenyan capital.
Output, once at full capacity, is expected to reach 2,900 to 3,600t of niobium concentrate a year, Anderson added. The deposit has an estimated mine-life of 16 to 18 years, he said.
A recent airborne geophysical survey showed Kwale county has the highest deposit of rare earths and niobium in the country. This the fifth largest niobium deposit globally and one of largest producers of niobium in Africa.
Niobium is a rare mineral used in high- temperature alloys for jet engines and to strengthen steel for cars, and in the production of high-grade steel products such as, ships hulls, pipelines, bridges and engines. Global demand for niobium has grown at a compound annual growth rate of 10% from 2000 to 2011, buoyed by robust demand for steel.
“We expect to begin small scale mining by the end of 2013 with the main mining commencing for the pilot plant, subject to financing, by the end of 2014,” said Anderson, “Initially we aim to produce at least a 50% niobium pentoxide concentrate, which can be sold as it is.
CMK also said it will establish niobium concentrate plants to process the resources, both in the Kwale district and in the area of Mombasa in the future. It has already commissioned preliminary designs for a ferro-niobium smelter.
Source: allAfrica.com. For more information, click here.