Lotus Resources (ASX: LOT) has commenced an exploration campaign at the Milenje Hills rare earth target within the historic Kayelekera uranium project in Malawi.
The work follows the discovery last year of high-grade rare earth oxide (REO) material related to uranium mineralisation at the prospect, located 2 kilometres north of the Kayelekera open pit and first identified through ground surveys and mapping in 2014 .
The material graded up to 16% total REO and 3.4% critical REO including dysprosium, europium, neodymium, praseodymium, terbium, yttrium and oxides.
The exploration agenda at Milenje Hills will feature an extension of the current geophysical dataset to include additional survey lines over a large anomaly identified in initial work.
Mapping in the broader area will be conducted to define new mineralised zones, while an excavator will deepen previous trenches and extend others where good mineralisation is observed.
Reverse circulation drilling of up to 2,000m will follow up on selected anomalies and mineralised zones identified from trenching, mapping and geophysics.
Testwork to better understand the REO host minerals, their associations and sizing is expected to commence later this year and will include initial beneficiation tests to confirm the viability of producing a physical concentrate.
Optimal path forward
Managing director Keith Bowes said the results of exploration at Milenje Hills would help determine an optimal path forward for the rare earth opportunity at Kayelekera.
“While we remain focused on the recommencement of production at Kayelekera, we believe Milenje Hills has the potential to add real value for minimal expenditure,” he said.
“The initial results [last year] were extremely encouraging in grade and REO mineral assemblage and we are hopeful the current work program will provide us with an enhanced understanding of the prospect’s overall potential.”
Lotus owns an 85% interest in the Kayelekera project, which hosts a current resource of 37.5 million pounds uranium oxide and historically produced approximately 11Mlb between 2009 and 2014.
A restart study completed in March 2020 demonstrated it could support a viable long-term operation and has potential to be one of the first uranium projects to recommence production in the future.
Earlier this week, the Malawi Government (which owns the remaining 15% in Kayelekera) renewed the project’s mining licence for another 15 years.