Apparently Wigu Hill has a lot going for it, both geologically and geographically. Geologically because the deposit is carbonatite in form with no associated radioactive materials present such as uranium or thorium that while potentially adding a revenue stream also greatly complicate the handling, concentrating and refining processes. Concentration is another facet of the geological advantages in Wigu’s favour, in places concentration goes as high as 25%, but is likely to average 7% to 10% according to the article. The other advantage is Tanzania’s geographic proximity to world class mining, processing and refining expertise in neighbouring South Africa.
Opportunities like this in Tanzania should be a reminder that there are actually rare earth deposits all over the world. Actually, production in places like North America was shut down in the past due to environmental concerns plus cost competitiveness from China. South Africa and India used to be the world’s leading producers.
Now that rare earths demand is surging due to their use in battery technology, old production areas can be re-started and new ones can be discovered.
Wagu is of even higher grade than China’s huge Bayan Obo mine that produces most of the world’s supply:
While China might have a monopoly in the near-term, since it takes time to re-start old rare earth mining activities in other places, in the long-term there is actually no shortage of ‘rare earths’.
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