Canadian dual-listed mining firm, Mkango Resources Limited, has commenced testing on a pilot flotation plant for the Songwe Hill Rare Earths project in Phalombe District.
The pilot plant provides detailed engineering data required to develop a final process flow sheet.
The test is being conducted at the ALS Metallurgical facility in Perth, Australia, and the floatation pilot plant uses a new optimised flotation regime that has been developed and scaled up.
The selection and piloting of the flotation processing flowsheet is an integral part of the feasibility study and a critical step towards commercialisation of the Songwe project.
Mkango Resources Limited Chief Executive Officer Will Dawes said feed for the flotation pilot plant is derived from the 60-tonne bulk sample previously shipped from Malawi to Australia.
The samples were selected from areas within the previously announced upgraded Measured and Indicated Mineral Resource Estimates, which underpin the ongoing feasibility study.
“The start of pilot plant processing is a major milestone for both Malawi and Mkango, as the Songwe Rare Earth project now joins the ranks of the very few rare earths projects worldwide that have been advanced to this stage of development,” Dawes said.
He said preparations have begun for a hydrometallurgical plant pilot test at the world renowned ANSTO Laboratories, also in Australia, to test the rare earth mineral concentrate produced from the ALS flotation plant.
Leading South African engineering group Senet, a subsidiary of DRA Global Group, is also continuing with the future mines detailed design and engineering studies in parallel with completing the Songwe Hill Rare Earth project bankable feasibility study.
The company also highlighted a “very favourable market backdrop” with rising rare earth prices and concerns over security of supply, and accelerating demand geared to growth in green technology applications around the world.
Rare earth prices have risen significantly over the recent months and the demand outlook is very positive, directly linked to growth in electric vehicles, wind power and other clean technology applications.