China, Germany, 2 Others Sought to Develop Tantalum Rare Earth Mine in Ethiopia
Zerihun Desta, general manager of Ethiopian Mineral Development SC (EMDSC), told Bloomberg News proceeds of the sale of EMDSC will enable the government to pursue the expansion of the Kenticha mine as well as build a factory to facilitate the processing of the rare earth metal. No details, however, were provided as to how much stake ownership the Ethiopian government is willing to dispose in the sale.
“We are looking for a potential partner who has technology for the value-adding factory and also the economic capability,” he said, noting investors from China, Sweden, Germany and South Korea have sent feelers for a potential joint venture with EMDSC. Mr Desta did not name the identities of the foreign companies.
He said tantalum is inexpensive to mine in Ethiopia because the rock around the deposit is very soft, a quality that could favorably interest the foreign investors. Plus, labor is “cheap” in Ethiopia, the EMDSC general manager added.
“This material is highly needed because the market for electronic products is growing,” he said. “And the material itself is a rare metal. Accordingly, demand is always strong.”
And regardless if global prices fluctuate, “if the price of tantalum goes down, we will be the last to close,” he said.
The Kenticha mine, located 550 kilometres or 342 miles south of Addis Ababa, holds abundant deposits of tantalum, used in transistors for digital cameras, computers and mobile phones, that can help create as much as 9,000 tonnes of processed products over more than 15 years, Mr Desta said.
Other metals such as quartz, feldspar, kaolin and dolomite are also present in Kenticha mine, Mr Desta further noted.
Should it push through, the expansion of Kenticha mine may result to quadruple annual tantalum export revenue projected at $80 million, he said.
The Kenticha mine ranks as the world’s sixth-biggest miner of tantalum, while EMDSC is Ethiopia’s only commercial producer of the rare earths metal.
In the 12 months to July 7, majority or 80 percent of the 220 metric tonnes tantalum concentrate mined at Kenticha was shipped to China.
S. Korea, Ethiopia agree on joint development of rare metals
SEOUL, Jan. 23 (Yonhap) — South Korea and Ethiopia agreed to jointly explore rare metals such as lithium and tantalum in the African country, Seoul’s officials said Sunday.
Under the agreement signed last week in Ethiopia, the two nations will develop rare metals and discuss Seoul’s potential purchase of a stake in Ethiopia’s tantalum mine, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Trade said in a statement.
Annually, South Korea imports about 4,000 tons of tantalum, a key material in manufacturing electronic goods, officials said.