ASX-listed Globe Metals & Mining and its joint venture (JV) partner, Resource Star, are scaling up exploration for rare-earth elements at their Machinga site, in south-eastern Malawi.

Globe’s Africa projects manager, Dries Kruger, says the work the JV is undertaking includes infill drilling on the main zone and geophysical and sampling on the remaining anomalies in the license area.

“Results from the 2010 exploration programme indicated several zones of rare-earth element and niobium mineralisation.

“What is significant about the rare-earth element mineralisation at Machinga is the fact that it has a high ratio of heavy rare-earth elements which are more valuable than the more abundant light rare-earth elements. Specifically, dysprosium is well represented at Machinga, with values of up to 970 ppm in some drilling intervals, says Kruger.

Prior to signing a JV agreement with Globe, Resource Star conducted sampling and exploration at Machinga, producing encouraging results.

Meanwhile, Globe has also reported encouraging results for its rare earths exploration project at Salambidwe, in Mwanza.

Kruger explains that soil and rock-chip sampling showed encouraging results for rare-earth-element mineralisation, which included a peak value of 2% total rare-earth elements and a dysprosium value of 214 ppm.

“These results are very encouraging, taking into account that the sampling programme was very limited. Exploration work will continue later in 2011,” he says.

Rare-earth element prices have skyrocketed over the last year, since China, which produces 95% of the minerals, imposed export quotas.

Since January, prices have risen three- to fivefold and dysprosium is now worth almost $1 000/kg.

The prices are forecast to further increase by 60% between 2011 and 2015.

Rare-earth elements are used in high-tech applications, including magnets, electronics and guidance systems for missiles.

Globe is also carrying out a definitive feasibility study at the Kanyika niobium project, in northern Malawi, following an investment agreement that it signed with Chinese Exploration & Mining Company, which has invested $48-million in Globe for a 53% stake in the ASX-listed company

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ZIMENE MUMAKONDA

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