The combined inferred resource stands at 44.7 million tonnes at 2.50% total rare-earth oxides (TREO), including a from surface resource of 11.6 million tonnes at 4.30% TREO oxide ore, with a cut-off of 1.0% TREO.
The maiden resource is expected to be just the beginning, with mineralisation open in all directions and at depth.
The estimate forms the basis of the scoping study currently underway, which is expected to be complete in November.
Stephen Dobson, chairman, commented: “The announcement of the mineral resource estimate is an important milestone in the development of the Longonjo Project as a potential low-cost producer of the ‘in demand’ magnet metal products neodymium and praseodymium oxide.”
Angola remains a very supportive jurisdiction for mining, and is one of Africa’s largest oil producers, and the world’s fifth largest diamond producer (by value).
The Angolan government owns a 10% interest in the exploration licence.
Resource estimate details
The resource is split into two parts, the oxide material and the fresh material. The higher-grade oxide material overlies the fresh material throughout the deposit, mineralised from surface in every drill hole.
The average depth of the oxide zone is estimated at 20 metres below surface. Flat topography will lead to a very low strip ratio as feasibility studies continue.
The oxide zone measures 11.6 million tonnes at 4.30% TREO and the fresh zone measures 33.2 million tonnes at 1.87% TREO.
Metallurgical test work underway
Metallurgical test work is presently underway on composite samples of the diamond core.
Both the oxide and fresh mineralisation types are being assessed for their potential for physical upgrading to produce a high-grade flotation concentrate.
Positive metallurgy testing to date and regional availability of reagents supports lower quartile operating expenses compared to peers.
Rift Valley Resources provides exposure to rare earths from the Longonjo project and copper through the Cassenha Hill project.
Both projects are within the 70% owned 3,760 square kilometre greater Ozango Project located in Angola.
Both copper and rare earths, particularly the magnet metals neodymium and praseodymium, are beneficiaries of the electric vehicle revolution.
Magnet metals of the future
Both neodymium and praseodymium, collectively known as NdPr, have experienced rapid price appreciation in 2017.
The main use of NdPr is in permanent magnets, or neodymium-iron-boron magnets, which are used in electric vehicle (EV) motors and already used in major EV models such as the Nissan LEAF, Chevrolet Bolt and BMW i3.
Demand is expected to grow further as Tesla made a decision to change their motor to a 3-phase NdPr permanent magnet motor in the Model 3 RWD Long Range model.
Scoping study to act as catalyst
According to Ashanti Capital, the Longonjo Magnet Metal Project should revalue upon delivery of the scoping study in November.
An advantage exists as a large proportion of the projected product value will be in the NdPr magnet metals.
Ashanti Capital estimates there is about US$9 billion worth of contained rare earth oxides within the high-grade oxide zone or US$6.8 billion worth of contained NdPr oxide.
Significantly, NdPr accounts for circa 20% of the resource’s TREO content, making it one of the most highly leveraged resources to the electric vehicle revolution.
Upcoming drilling results
The Longonjo Magnet Metals Project is located within the greater Ozango Project, which also hosts a number of other smaller projects and prospects.
One such prospect is the Cassenha Hill copper prospect, where drill results are expected shortly.
Drilling at Cassenha Hill is aimed at testing the extent of copper mineralisation delineated in the maiden drilling program during 2016.
Key results from prior drilling included: 21 metres at 1.39% copper; 15 metres at 2.27% copper; and 16 metres at 1.79% cooper.
There was also a broader intersection of: 70 metres at 0.87% copper.
All holes hit mineralisation and sampling work features up to 9% copper in clays and 5% copper in soils.
The right people in place
Recently, Rift Valley bolstered its board with the addition of non-executive director, Mark Hohnen.
Hohnen is an institutional grade corporate leader who was the founding chairman of £15 million capped Namibian focussed Kalhari Minerals.
He helped build Kalhari into a £750 million company before it was subject to a transaction in 2012 for $US2.2 billion.
Furthermore, the well-known resources-focused investment fund Resource Capital Funds owns a 13.5% stake in the company.