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Lindian Resources appoints new boss for African rare earths mission

New Lindian Resources chief executive officer Alwyn Vorster is set to drive the company’s African rare earths project forward. Credit: File

Incoming Lindian Resources (ASX: LIN) chief executive officer Alwyn Vorster has vowed to bring the company’s massive flagship Kangankunde rare earths project in Malawi into construction and operation “as soon as possible”.

The experienced rare earths executive, who has a track-record of managing projects through all stages of development, is expected to take up his new post as of this Saturday to start driving the south-east African operation.

Formerly the head of ASX-listed rare earths company Hastings Technology Metals, Vorster will bring relevant experience in the valuable critical minerals space to Lindian. He also was previously managing director at the $650 million market-capped salt and potash company BCI Minerals and held the same post at Iron Ore Holdings.

Lindian says Vorster’s appointment represented its want to find an executive experienced in project delivery as it transitions from exploration to ramping up construction and its stage one development. Vorster says he will focus all his efforts on managing the project and expanding the on-the-ground team for when the construction process starts.

I have seldom in my 30-year career encountered an exceptional orebody such as at the world-class Kangankunde Project. My aim will be to finalise all elements required to move Kangankunde into construction and operations as soon as possible.
Incoming Lindian Resources chief executive officer Alwyn Vorster

Executive chairman Asimwe Kabunga said the company had reached the point where project delivery experience and focussed transition management was required to finalise feasibility studies and funding before it moved into construction. He also thanked previous chief executive officer Alistair Stephens for his contribution to the company in helping to define one of the world’s biggest rare earth deposits.

Lindian recently revealed an updated mineral resource for Kangankunde, with an estimate of 261 million tonnes grading 2.14 per cent total rare earth oxides (TREO), including an indicated resource of 61 million tonnes at 2.43 per cent (TREO).

The higher-grade component of the updated indicated category includes 25 million tonnes at an impressive 3.26 per cent TREO. It also features 300,000 tonnes of neodymium-praseodymium (NdPr), representing 20.2 per cent of the TREO.

The company believes the higher-grade mineralisation is a key to its stage one feasibility study that is set to be delivered before the end of the financial year. Just last month, it announced it was fully permitted to begin the construction, mining and mineral processing steps at Kangankunde after receiving a permit to extract ground water at the site.

It now has mining, exploration, environmental and social impact and assessment licences in place, in addition to an explosives permit. Management expects early-stage mine development works will be fully funded from existing cash reserves and is investigating other non-dilutive funding options. It says it has been receiving considerable interest from rare earths industry participants for offtake deals, including the option for a pre-payment debt facility for project development.

Lindian is also in the final stages of a metallurgical variability testing program, with results set to guide mine planning schedules so that grade, recovery and rock-type variations can be used in association with mine and process plant production predictions. Recent metallurgical test results confirm recoveries of 70 per cent TREO, in line with results from testing in April last year.

Once completed, the final testwork results will be used to complete mine design studies and production forecasts in the company’s upcoming feasibility report.

A recent forecast by Business Insights stated the rare earths market is anticipated to rise at a compound annual growth rate (CAGR) of 10.2 per cent, increasing from an expected $US3.74 billion ($AU5.64 billion) to $US8.14 billion ($AU12.27 billion) during the forecasted period from this year to 2032. It believes the rising adoption of consumer durables such as smartphones, laptops and tablets is one of the factors driving the expected increased consumption of valuable critical minerals.

With an apparent “world-class” rare earths project on its hands, Lindian is well-positioned for the anticipated growth in the demand for critical minerals in the coming decade.

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