Results of niobium samples sent to China by Globe Metals and Mining Company have shown mineral resource potential of Kanyika Mine in Mzimba.
This has compelled the Australian Securities Exchange (ASX)-listed company, which has an exploration licence, to go ahead with the project once development agreement negotiations with government are complete, according the firm’s executive manager Neville Huxham.
In March 2014, African-focused specialty metals and rare earths company announced that its 40-tonne bulk sample from the Kanyika Niobium Project arrived in China for the metallurgical pilot plant testing.
Huxham told Business News on Wednesday that the metallurgical process and tests, which were conducted at the Guangzhou Research Institute of Non-Ferrous Metals (GZRINM) in China went well and what is remaining is to streamline the process to make it cheaper and cost effective in the way niobium is recovered from the ore.
Said Huxham: “The results of the samples proved satisfactory and we are positive with this project. Even though this process is complicated, at least the results came out in a positive manner. The circuit optimisation was done by experts and our only prayer is that negotiations with government should be completed on time.
“We are in no rush to start this and we will go at the pace government wishes. Once fully operational, we will create over 1 200 jobs and improve the socio economic status of residents around the mine.”
He said there are several issues that need to be sorted out with government, adding that the investment is quite big.
“Since we are in good books with government, we know that all the technical areas where there are hitches will be professionally sorted out.”
Huxham said the company wants to maximise its metallurgical processes so that they can recover enough ore body from the rocks.
He said, so far, the mining firm has invested $80 million (about K36 billion) and more will still be required because of their other projects of the Chiziro Graphite Project in Lilongwe, Salambidwe in Zomba and another rare earth mine in Machinga.
Secretary for Natural Resources, Energy and Mining Ben Botolo said government wants to conclude discussions with Globe Metals in April or May this year so that mining operations can start.
“In April, we will have developed an agreement with Globe Metals and we plan to visit the area in May so that we discuss with chiefs on the challenges the company is facing so that they should not give them a tough time because they also have some challenges,” he said.
Botolo said the people of Kanyika had high expectations and they need to be told that the price of niobium on the global market is not stable and that the company is also in the process of mobilising resources.
“We know these people were promised compensation; hence, our decision to travel to the area in May so that we iron out the misunderstandings between the two parties,” he said.
Recently, residents around the mine complained that they are failing to embark on economic activities, including farming because they were told to move out to pave the way for the company to start mining.