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Rwanda joins Africa’s critical metal list

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The scenic hills of Rwanda host good deposits of critical metals that are increasingly in demand to sustain the global energy transition. (The image was taken on a road trip to Rwanda a few years ago, and is not Aterian’s site). Image credit: Leon Louw for WhyAfrica

Rwanda joins Africa’s critical metal list

Fieldwork at London listed Aterian’s southern projects in Rwanda has identified 22 zones of potentially mineralised pegmatite, confirming the presence of a swarm of rare-metal hosting targets for future exploration and evaluation.

Tin and tantalum mining is not new to Rwanda. Artisanal miners have been present in the area for a long time and a number of mining companies have operated in the country with a mixed bag of success.

Nevertheless, Aterian’s identification of mineralised pegmatite has put Rwanda’s mining industry in the spotlight as the world’s thirst for critical metals increase. Rwanda is the latest in a growing list of African countries that hosts metals that are critical in the global energy transition.

According to Charles Bray, Chairman of Aterian, a multi-method geophysical survey is currently underway in preparation for the preliminary scout drilling programme that will get underway in the second quarter of 2023. “Fieldwork over the HCK-1 zone indicates a strike length of c 2,500m with widths up to 100m in places,” says Bray.

Prospective targets include tantalum, niobium, tin, tungsten and lithium.

Partnerships with artisanal mining parties (Rwanda joins Africa’s critical metal list)

A key goal in Aterian’s strategy in Rwanda, is to operate in partnership with artisanal miners who have been working in the area for decades. Bray says that partnership discussions have begun with parties to improve artisanal mining productivity through mechanisation, and to provide material to Aterian’s metal trading business.

In addition an online stakeholder management tool  1Villager.com has been engaged to support Whistleblower management, social license reporting, and stakeholder engagement, as part of the ongoing obligation by the company to ethical supply chain management as a member of the International Tin Association’s Supply Chain Initiative (ITSCI) Programme for responsible mineral supply chain compliance.

Work on metal trading business well advanced (Rwanda joins Africa’s critical metal list)

According to Bray, work on building a metal trading business based in Rwanda is now well underway. “This is aligned to Rwanda’s long-term objective of improved mining and metal recovery efficiencies,” says Bray.

“Aterian is committed to its ESG responsibilities including respecting human rights and the avoidance of making any contribution to conflict through our mineral purchasing decisions and practices.

“Utilising the OECD due diligence guidelines and supported by our ITSCI membership our mineral trading business will be compliant with international standards and work in synergy with our exploration business.

“Our joint-venture relationships will produce mineral ores and generate revenue that supports our investment in exploration. A key strategic component of our Rwandan strategy has been to build a critical metals business with exploration options funded internally,” says Bray.

Aterian’s wholly owned Rwandan subsidiary, Eastinco is currently engaged in an initial three partnerships with local entities to explore and develop tantalum, niobium, tin, and lithium opportunities. Eastinco holds a Trading Licence, which will also facilitate the trading of metal concentrates within the region.

Prospecting over the HCK licence has identified 18 zones of potentially tantalum and niobium hosting pegmatite, frequently with multiple pegmatite dykes observed at most locations. A total of 22 target pegmatite zones have now been discovered on the combined Southern Projects, making this a strong exploration play.

Rwanda joins Africa’s critical metal list

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 Rwanda joins Africa’s critical metal list

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AgricultureEnvironmental Management & Climate ChangeEnergyESGInfrastructureMiningPolitical EconomyTourism and ConservationWater Management