Steenkampskraal (SKK), the world’s highest-grade rare earth mine, has received its Water License from the Department of Water and Sanitation. This Water License was the last remaining permit that SKK required. SKK is now fully permitted to commence construction and production, says Trevor Blench, Chairman of Steenkampskraal Holdings Ltd.
SKK prepared a detailed analysis of the groundwater reserves, flows and replenishment rates around the mine. SKK drilled several boreholes and equipped these boreholes with generators, pumps and pipes to supply water for the mine. The company built a reverse osmosis plant to treat 20,000l/h, which is enough water for the mine’s requirements.
SKK’s Mining Right (MR) allows the company to mine all the minerals in the 474-hectare MR area, except diamonds and oil, until 2030. This MR is renewable, which could be 10 or 20 years beyond 2030.
“The mine’s NI 43-101 Mineral Resource Estimate (MRE) 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,” explains Mr Blench. The neodymium (Nd) grade, on its own, is 2.58%, the praseodymium (Pr) grade is 0.74%, the dysprosium (Dy) grade is 0.14% and the terbium (Tb) 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.
This MRE confirms the presence of 86,930 tons of rare earths at the Steenkampskraal mine, including 15,600 tons of Nd, 4,450 tons of Pr, 867 tons of Dy and 182 tons of Tb. The planned production volume of 2,700 tons of rare earths per year will include 480 tons of Nd, 138 tons of Pr, 26 tons of Dy and 5 tons of Tb.