The approval makes way for mining of one of the largest such deposits in the world , which is expected to generate taxes and royalties for the country of more than Sh26 billion over the mines’ 21 year lifespan.
Cortec Mining Kenya Managing Director David Anderson says recent results from laboratories in Australia confirm a high grade rare earth zone with intercepts of 108 meters at 6.73 percent total rare earths and 78 meters at 5.22 percent.
Niobium deposit is likewise rich with 105.3 meters grading 0.65 percent niobium pent oxide.
“Initially we will be setting up a Sh300 million pilot processing plants with a feed stock rate of about five tonnes an hour to produce niobium concentrate at Mrima Hill,” he said.
Anderson revealed that the plant will later be expanded into a full-scale concentrate plant that will process about 750,000 tonnes of ore per annum to produce some 6,000 to 7,000 tonnes of niobium concentrate per annum.
He said that small scale initial excavation is expected to begin in late 2014 followed by operation of the pilot plant from 2015.
“Our investor’s confidence has grown and they will now go ahead and spend the additional capital to complete the metallurgical work to prepare for building of the mine and the processing plant that will bring prosperity to the region,” he said.
He said that this go ahead will see more than 1,500 jobs opportunities created.