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RARE EARTHS & MINERAL SANDS | SOUTH AFRICA Africa’s rare earths sector Frontier at the forefront Situated in South Africa’s Northern Cape Province, TSX-listed Frontier Rare Earths’ (Frontier) Zandkopsdrift project is one of the largest known, high grade rare earth deposits globally. In combination with its shallow, high grade rare earth zones and significant quantities of critical rare earth oxides, it presents one of the most attractive projects in the sector, writes Laura Cornish. Zandkopsdrift Africa’s potential rare earths ‘golden child’. IN SHORT The Zandkopsdrift project, situated in Saldanha Bay’s ‘backyard’, could be producing internationally identified critical rare earth oxides by the end of 2017. C ontained within Frontier’s 15 000 ha of prospecting rights is Zandkopsdrift, the biggest rare earths intrusion discovered in a complex of carbonatite (ancient volcanic) intrusions. “In numbers, we have identified approximately 1 Mt of total rare earth oxides (TREO) within 42 Mt of rock,” Frontier CEO James Kenny states. This confirms Zandkopsdrift as one of the largest known rare earth deposits – globally. As significant as this may be however, the viability of successfully developing a rare earths mine is dependent on a variety of factors in addition to size and grade of the resource. This includes a favourable relative distribution of the contained rare earths, low levels of radioactivity, proven extraction strategy, end- buyers and conventional mining and processing methodologies. Frontier has ticked all these boxes, making Minimal radioactivity “While the majority (97%) of our rare earths are contained in monazite, which can be associated with higher levels of thorium and uranium, our project contains very low levels of radioactivity from either of these minerals.” This equates to easier, less restrictive transportation, handling and waste disposal requirements, thereby reducing overall project risk. “So even though this can be one of the biggest project risks to manage in our sector, it won’t be for us. The plus side to the monazite host mineral at Zandkopsdrift is that it’s a known mineral with commercially proven T C FAST FA f Zandkopsdrift site visit 18 MINING REVIEW AFRICA ISSUE 10 2014 to he amoun 18 00 al/ 0 se t pa T rated rare earth nning individu ntier is pla ft ments Fro ele ndkopsdri e from Za to produc ti c on u t full prod annually a