Mining company Mkango Resources given approval to explore Songwe Hill rare earths project in Phalombe 

Malawi Environmental Protection Agency (MEPA) has approved an environmental social health impact assessment (ESHIA) for Mkango Resources Limited’s flagship Songwe Hill rare earths project in Phalombe District.

Reporting from London, says the ESHIA approval is a significant milestone in the Mining Development Agreement (MDA) process as it is a fundamental requirement for the company to be granted a mining licence.

The report says once granted the mining licence, the project is expected to unlock significant stakeholder value and future investment for the development of Sub-Saharan Africa’s first large scale, commercial rare earth mining and processing operation in Malawi.

Mkango Resources’ president, Alexander Lemon is quoted as saying the approval “is a major achievement for Mkango and Malawi’s first rare earth mining project”, while thanking the Malawi government for its ongoing cooperation and support.

Alexander Lemon, Mkango Resources president

Lemon also applauded MEPA for its “advice and support during the ESHIA engagement, review and approval process” and looks forward to the approval of the the MDA and mining licence in the coming weeks.

“The Malawi Ministry of Justice has appointed a London-based international law firm with mining expertise to carry out a final review of the Mining Development Agreement and we are hoping to shortly conclude an agreement that is a win-win for both the nation of Malawi and all of Mkango’s stakeholders,” Lemon is quoted as saying.

The report further says the ESHIA was undertaken by Digby Wells Environmental Limited in compliance with the latest International Finance Corporation (IFC) performance standards and the Malawi Environmental Management Act, No. 19 of 2017.

According to the report, Mkango Resources corporate strategy is to develop new sustainable primary and secondary sources of neodymium, praseodymium, dysprosium and terbium to supply accelerating demand from electric vehicles, wind turbines and other clean technologies.

This integrated mine, refine and recycle strategy differentiates Mkango from its peers, uniquely positioning the company in the rare earths sector and has been developing Songwe Hill in Malawi with a feasibility study that was completed in July 2022.

The company applauds Malawi for its a stable democracy with existing road, rail and power infrastructure, and new infrastructure developments being underway.

Drilling works at Songwe Hill

In parallel, Mkango is in collaboration with Grupa Azoty, Poland’s leading chemical company and the second largest manufacturer of nitrogen and compound fertilizers in the European Union, to work together towards development of rare earth Separation Plant at Pulawy in Poland — which will process the purified mixed rare earth carbonate produced at Songwe Hill.

“Through its ownership of Maginito, Mkango is also developing green technology opportunities in the rare earths supply chain, encompassing neodymium magnet recycling as well as innovative rare earth alloy, magnet, and separation technologies,” says the report.

“Maginito holds a 42% interest in UK rare earth magnet recycler, HyProMag with an option to increase its interest to 49%. Mkango also has an extensive exploration portfolio in Malawi, including the Mchinji rutile exploration project, the Thambani uranium-tantalum-niobium-zircon project and Chimimbe nickel-cobalt project.

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