By Hilary Mare
THE Ministry of Environment and Tourism has cleared TSX-V-listed project promoter, Namibia Rare Earths’ Lofdal heavy rare earth project, for mining and processing operations, and for a planned power and water line corridor, the company announced last week.
The Halifax, Nova Scotia-based company said the three-year environmental clearance certificates (ECCs) allows it to develop an 840 000 tons per year open pit mining operation at Lofdal, together with processing facilities, waste rock dumps and tailings storage facility, to produce heavy rare earth concentrates at site.
Namibia Rare Earths (NRE) plans to build a 40km long 66 kV overhead power line from the national power grid, with a parallel water pipeline, to deliver power and water to site.
The certificates also allow the company to consider installing a supplemental photovoltaic solar power plant at site.
“The certificates, which are issued by the Office of the Environmental Commissioner in the Ministry of Environment and Tourism, are required in support of the mining licence application for Lofdal, which is being processed by the Ministry of Mines and Energy. The certificates have a three-year period of validity from date of issue. The mining licence application (ML 200) was submitted to the Ministry of Mines and Energy in late 2016 and remains pending.
“The issuance of an ECC is a condition precedent for the granting of any mining licence in Namibia and represents an important step in the overall process undertaken by the Ministry of Mines and Energy in making a determination for the granting of a mining licence,” NRE President Don Burton said.
NRE engaged SLR Environmental Consulting (Namibia) Pty. Ltd. in early 2015 to carry out an Environmental Impact Assessment (EIA) for Lofdal, to ensure compliance with all relevant regulations and to develop the appropriate environmental management plans for the proposed mine development at Lofdal. The EIA process was conducted over an 18-month period and included extensive baseline environmental studies and formal community consultations. Final reports were submitted to the ministry in June 2016, in support of the application for an Environmental Clearance Certificate. The application for a mining licence was subsequently filed with the ministry in November 2016.
NRE also announced that it has received conditional approval from the TSX-V exchange to acquire a portfolio of critical metals properties from Gecko Namibia. It is working to satisfy the conditions for final approval.
Shares of NRE are currently halted from trading and it is expected that they will remain halted, until the exchange has received and reviewed the required documentation regarding the property acquisition.
A 2014 preliminary economic assessment on the Lofdal project concluded that the project has the potential to produce an average of 1 500 t/y of separated rare earth oxides (REO), which would generate after tax cumulative cash flow of US$259-million with a net present value, using a 10 percent discount rate, of US$148-million and an internal rate of return of 42 percent.
According to the PEA, there is considerable potential to expand the current mineral resource and recommends that additional drilling be carried out to provide for an extended mine life, in conjunction with a six-month prefeasibility study programme.
Namibia Rare Earths Inc. is focused on the accelerated development of the Lofdal Rare Earths Project and on building a critical metals portfolio in Namibia. The common shares of Namibia Rare Earths Inc. trade on the TSX Venture Exchange under the symbol “NRE”.
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