Mkango Resources Limited, a mining company trading on TSX venture exchange in Canada, says it has intensified exploration works for rare earths at Songwe Hill in Phalombe in its the second phase drilling exercise expected to be through in May this year.
The company’s president Alexander Lemon told reporters in Phalombe on Thursday that exploration of rare earth elements, which have drawn worldwide attention in recent months,Â is progressing at a faster pace because the work is being done 24 hours a day and seven days a week.
“This year, we are drilling even when it is raining because we gravelled the road and movement is no longer a problem,” he said on the sidelines of a familiarisation tour by the Minister of Natural Resources, Energy and Environment Goodal Gondwe on the mining site.
The second phase comprises infill drilling and testing depth extensions of mineralisation intersected in the first stage last year, according to Lemon.
Stage one demonstrated that the mineralised zones have the potential to extend and remain open laterally within the extents of the Songwe Hill carbonatite complex, he said.
Lemon noted the huge market for rare earths has compelled them to engage in the second phase drilling exercise in which they are drilling as deep as 4 000 metres.
He could not comment on the details of results of the first phase drilling exercise conducted last year, but said they were positive.
“The actual results will be known after this second phase of drilling,” said Lemon.
Rare earth elements consist of a group of about 17 metals and these are; cerium, dysprosium, erbium, europium, gadolinium, holmium, lanthanum, lutetium, neodymium, praseodymium, samarium, terbium, thulium, ytterbium and yttrium.
They are key in the manufacturing of computer memory, DVDs, rechargeable batteries, cellphones, magnets, fluorescent lighting, among others.
On his part, Gondwe hailed the miner for exploration works, saying once they start the actual mining, hundreds of Malawians will be employed and also help to widen the country’s export base.
“It [the mining activities] will help to develop the country in a very meaningful way. It will also add substantially to the GDP [Gross Domestic Product] growth and the country will start to benefit,” he said.
He, however, said government is working very hard to address the power deficiency so that mining companies such as Mkango should benefit.
Gondwe observed that time has come for Malawi to turn from an agricultural economy to one that relies on mining.