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Steenkampskraal rare earths mine ready to start construction

Steenkampskraal rare earths project. (Image courtesy of Steenkampskraal Holdings).

Steenkampskraal, considered the world’s highest-grade rare earth mine, received its water license from South Africa’s Department of Water and Sanitation. 

In a press release, Trevor Blench, chairman of Steenkampskraal Holdings, said the water license was the last remaining permit that the mine required. This means that Steenkmpskraal is now fully permitted and both construction and production activities can begin. 

According to Blench, the company prepared a detailed analysis of the groundwater reserves, flows and replenishment rates around the mine. 

 The MRE confirms the presence of 86,930 tonnes of rare earths at Steenkampskraal

His team also drilled several boreholes and equipped them with generators, pumps and pipes to supply water to the mine. They also built a reverse osmosis plant to treat 20,000l/h, which is enough water for the mine’s requirements.

The executive said that the water permit, combined with a previously-granted mining right, allows the company to mine all the minerals in the 474-hectare MR area, except diamonds and oil, until 2030.

The Steenkampskraal mine is located in the Western Cape province of South Africa. It is an existing mine that was operated by Anglo American from 1952 to 1963.

“The mine’s NI 43-101 Mineral Resource Estimate confirms the presence of 605,000 tons of ore at an average grade of 14.4%, which is the highest rare earth grade in the world with an MRE that complies with the NI 43-101 requirements,” Blench said in the media brief. “The neodymium grade, on its own, is 2.58%, the praseodymium grade is 0.74%, the dysprosium grade is 0.14% and the terbium grade is 0.03%. The combined grade of these four rare earths that are used to make the magnets for electric motors is 3.49%, which is higher than the total rare earth grades of most other rare earth deposits.”