Aim-listed Mkango Resources has started with testwork on a pilot flotation plant for the Songwe Hill rare earths project, in Malawi.
The pilot programme is being conducted at ALS Metallurgy, in Perth, with a new flotation regime planned to be scaled up as part of the programme.
This while preparation for hydrometallurgical pilot testing is under way at Ansto, also in Australia, which will process rare earth mineral concentrate produced from the flotation plant.
Design and engineering studies by lead engineer Senet – a DRA Global group company – are continuing in parallel, with the Songwe Hill feasibility study targeted for completion in the fourth quarter of this year.
Mkango has conducted scoping studies for rare earth separation and is considering options for potential sites.
The company says rising rare earth prices and concerns over security of supply bode well for a favourable market backdrop, with more demand arising from green technology applications across the world.
Mkango CEO William Dawes comments that the start of pilot plant processing is a major milestone for the company, which will join the ranks of very few rare earths projects that have advanced to this stage of development.
Mkango is uniquely positioned in the rare earths sector with an integrated “mine, refine, recycle” strategy encompassing sustainably sourced rare earths from Malawi; rare earth magnet recycling in the UK, through its interest in HyProMag; and strategic options to develop rare earth separation and refining capacity in the European Union and the UK.
The company aims to produce mixed rare earth carbonate enriched in neodymium, praseodymium, dysprosium and terbium.