NKOMBO KACHEMBA, Kitwe
AN AUSTRALIAN company and Africa Consolidated Resources (ACR) have invested US$1.3 million in the exploration of rare earth and phosphate metals
in Isoka district with plans to open up a mine in the area which will create 5,000 direct jobs for the local people.
Rare earth is any of a group of chemically similar metallic elements comprising the lanthanide series and (usually) scandium and yttrium. They are not especially rare, but they tend to occur together in nature and are difficult to separate from one another.
It is used to manufacture phones and computers while phosphate is used in the production of fertilisers.
Rare Earth International Limited and ACR have been conducting exploration works in Nkombwa Hills of Isoka district for six years and have found deposits of rare earth and phosphate.
Muchinga Province Minister Malozo Sichone said in an interview yesterday that the two companies have found deposits of rare earth imbedded in the phosphate.
Mr Sichone said the two companies, which are in a joint venture, are now devising a formula of extracting rare earth from the phosphate before starting the actual mining.
“These two companies have been conducting exploration works for six years now in Isoka and they have found the deposits for rare earth. What they need now is to find a formula to separate rare earth from the phosphate because it is imbedded in there,” he said.
He said according to the findings of the two companies, the area has 200 million metric tonnes of rare earth deposits.
Mr Sichone said the two companies plan to set up a mine, which will have a lifespan of 100 years, and create more than 5,000 direct jobs for the local people.
He said the refining and processing of the minerals will be done at the mine thus creating more employment opportunities for the local people.
He said the two companies will also build a railway line to connect Nkombwa hill to the Tanzania- Zambia Railway Authority (TAZARA) railway line for easy transportation of the minerals once the mine starts operating.