Tantalus Rare Earths is a rare earths exploration company focussed on its Tantalus Rare Earths project, located on the Ampasindava Peninsula in north-western Madagascar, where Tantalus holds the exploration license to a 300 km2 concession area. The company’s rare earths project benefits from a relatively high ratio of the more valuable heavy rare earths at 19% of total rare earth oxides. The results of a resource review carried out by SRK Consulting have tripled the inferred resources estimate to 435 million tonnes of rare earth bearing laterieritic clays and 348 thousand tonnes of rare earth oxides. The current resource is valued at approximately $10bn, after factoring in a 35% discount relating to the price differential common in Chinese markets.Results to date also indicate significant levels of tantalum, niobium, zirconium, gallium and smaller quantities of hafnium, tin, silver and base metals. Results have also shown low levels of uranium and thorium content, which is encouraging as it reduces the risk of future environmental problems often associated with rare earths projects.
Tantalus Rare Earths boosted by Rhodia endorsement
Tantalus Rare Earths’ (XETRA:TRE) development and offtake deal with Rhodia has validated the huge potential of its flagship project in Madagscar, its boss said.
Describing Rhodia as the “Rolls-Royce of the rare earths business” David Rigoll, Tantalus’s chief executive, said it would enable the Frankfurt–listed firm to fast track the project.
The two firms have signed a letter of intent to work together on how to extract “heavy” rare earths metals at the Madagscar site, ahead of a full technical co-operation agreement.
An exclusive supply deal will also see Rhodia take 15,000 tonnes of rare earths concentrate per year, a huge quantity says Rigoll.
Tantalus’s Madagascar project is one of the largest clay hosted rare earth resources outside of China, with 20 per cent of the rare earths found in the most valuable "heavy" category.
Rigoll said that the tie-up with Rhodia was a major milestone for the company.
“If I was making cars and Rolls – Royce came in and said it wanted to be a partner, you would know you were on to something. That’s the best way I can describe it.”
“We want the most efficient, environmentally friendly, most economical, purest concentrate we can get. That’s the difference between Rhodia and everyone else. Their oxides are the purest in the world.”
China currently supplies over 90 per cent of the world’s rare earths.
Rigoll says the Tantalus project is based on the same type of ionic clays found in southern China and will be similarly low cost to produce.
“It’s cheap, effective and now it has the number one validation.”
“We don’t have to go and build crushing plants and treatment plants. It’s leaching. I pour a solution into a pile of ground. It’s what people don’t understand. If I get a mining licence I could be producing in six months.”
That is why farmers in southern China are doing it [mining rare earths], he adds.
“Ninety per cent of the world’s rare earths come from illegal mining in southern China. If it required heavy capex and huge set-up time, that wouldn’t be happening.”
Our capex will be lucky to rise to 30-40 million dollars because of the low cost of working in these clays, he adds.
Rigoll added he expects the world to wake up to the fact “soon” that its site in Madagascar is “virtually the Chinese industry in one spot.”