Lotus Resources Limited, the new investor in Kayelekera Uranium Mine in Karonga, has started exploration activities, including drilling at the Milenje Hills Rare Earth Prospect in Karonga District.
The exploration programme and drilling, also known as reverse circulation (RC), follow the discovery of high-grade rare earth oxide material related to uranium at the site, which is about two kilometres from Kayelekera Uranium Mine.
A statement issued by the company said the site has uranium mineralisation that grades up to 16 percent total rare earth oxide and 3.4 percent critical rare earth oxide.
The company further said the company will determine the optimal path forward to crystalise the value of the rare earth opportunity at Kayelekera for shareholders.
But Lotus Resources Limited managing director Keith Bowes said while the company remained firmly focused on the development and recommencement of production at the Kayelekera Uranium Mine, they believe the Milenje Hills prospect has the potential to add real value to the company for minimal expenditure.
He said: “Clearly, the initial results encountered at Milenje Hills were extremely encouraging, given both the grade and assemblage of rare earth minerals.
“The current work programme will provide us with an enhanced understanding of the overall potential of Milenje Hills, prior to determining the optimal path forward to realise value for shareholders.”
Mining governance expert Kossam Munthali said there was need for proper planning and engagement of locals in all mining activities so that the country benefits.
He said: “So, we need a different community development agreement altogether apart from the one being done for Kayelekera Uranium Mine. We need the people to benefit; we need the country to benefit.
“We don’t need to hear stories lagain that people failing to benefit from their resources. Government needs to be careful on this this time.”
Chilanga Ward Councillor Steve Simsokwe, whose area the mine is located, said people in the area will not accept any work to start before they agree on development projects.
Milenje Hills was first identified through ground surveys and mapping in 2014 while exploring for uranium mineralisation adjacent to the Kayelekera uranium resource.
Late in 2020, the company completed its initial work programme at Milenje Hills to better define the nature and extent of the mineralisation, which had not been fully outlined due to lack of surface exposure of the mineral bearing rocks.
So far, Kayelekera Uranium Mine is Malawi’s biggest mining venture to date and was placed on care and maintenance since February 2014 due to the fall in uranium prices on the international market