+27 71 448 3496

SA’s Steenkampskraal on track to produce first monazite in 2024

Share Article
Steenkampskraal was mined by Anglo American in the 1950s and 1960s. Image credit: Steenkampskraal.

SA’s Steenkampskraal on track to produce first monazite in 2024 

Steenkampskraal, a monazite mine in the Wester Cape Province of South Africa, remains on track to produce its first monazite by December 2024.    

Speaking at the Critical Minerals Africa Conference in Cape Town last week, Graham Soden, a Director, CEO and Mine Manager of Steenkampskraal Monazite Mine, outlined the mine’s planned development strategy to December 2027 to bring the mine into production.

The strategy covers producing monazite concentrate with the construction of a monazite concentration plant, followed by the construction of a cracking plant to produce mixed rare earth (RE) carbonate and thorium. This will be followed by the construction of separation plant to produce mixed RE oxides.

To date, Soden said about R1-billion has been invested in the mine’s infrastructure. “The first phase of three phases will involve the mobilisation of the mining and processing plant and equipment to the site, refurbishment the decline and shaft area, and re-equipping the headgear and infrastructure.”

“Material and loose ore from underground will be reclaimed followed by the construction of the monazite concentration plant and commencement of underground mining. The first monazite concentrate is expected to be produced by December 2024,” he said.

Increasing volumes and production (SA’s Steenkampskraal on track to produce first monazite in 2024)

The second Phase will involve increased mining volumes and monazite concentrate production and all metallurgical testwork, design and planning for the construction and commissioning of a monazite cracking plant. This will produce mixed RE carbonate and thorium. In this phase the design and planning of a RE separation plant will also be undertaken.

In Phase three the construction and commissioning of the separation plant will be completed to produce mixed RE oxides. The period January 2026 to December 2026 will see the cracking plant commissioning and initial production of mixed RE carbonate and thorium. The period January 2027 onwards will see the steady state production of monazite concentrate to the cracking plant with the production of mixed RE carbonate and thorium with plans to produce individual RE oxides.

To finance the project, from August 2023 to January 2024 the mine will raise USD2-million capital. This will cover planning, design, and metallurgical test work for phases 2 and 3. From January 2024 to July 2024, USD15-million to USD20-million capital will be raised for working capital, project mobilisation and ongoing metallurgical test work for phases 2 and 3.

The period August 2024 to December 2024 will see the commissioning of phase 1, the first production of monazite concentrate and ongoing phase 2 and 3 metallurgical test work.

Between January 2025 to December 2025 there will be a further capital raise of USD15-million to USD20-million for the steady state production of monazite concentrate, and cracking plant design and construction.

The period January 2026 to December 2026 will see an increase in Run of Mine (RoM) production, the cracking plant commissioning and associated increase in monazite concentrate production to the cracking plant, and the initial production of mixed RE carbonate and thorium.

From January 2027 onwards an additional USD15-milion to USD20-million capital will be raised. This will be for the steady state production of monazite concentrate, increased RoM production and monazite concentrate for the cracking plant and the production of mixed RE carbonate and thorium. Following this, individual RE oxides are planned to be produced.

Rare Earth market predicted to triple (SA’s Steenkampskraal on track to produce first monazite in 2024)

Soden said that the market for rare earth elements is projected to triple by 2035 according to an Adamas Intelligence report with a CAGR increase of 8.3% in total market demand. RE prices are expected to have a CAGR increase of between 3.2% and 3.7%. The market value of RE are projected to be about USD46.2-billion by 2035 globally.

“The problems the industry is currently experiencing is that RE prices are dependent on Chinese national policies. China can control RE prices simply by adjusting the supply. China exercises lower levels of environmental and legislative control and as a result 40% – 50% of RE production is grey or illegal. Currently, 80% – 90% of rare earth elements come from China, which poses significant geopolitical and environmental risks,” said Soden.

He added that the Steenkampskraal mine deposit is rich in Neodymium, Praseodymium (NdPr), Dysprosium, Terbium and other RE minerals. The primary elements at the mine are Neodymium – 56.59%, Dysprosium – 14.19%, Praseodymium – 12.43%, Terbium – 9.62% Gadolinium – 2.12% and Cerium – 1.95%.

Historic infrastructure remain in place (SA’s Steenkampskraal on track to produce first monazite in 2024)

Anglo American developed the mine in the 1950s to an average depth below surface of 100m along a 400m strike, with three mining levels and access through a 140m decline and 28m vertical shaft.

Much of the reef drives and stopes have been left unmined. Ground conditions are geotechnically competent, enabling rapid re-commissioning of mining operations.

“Large volumes of blasted ore have been left underground, ready to be reclaimed. The orebody varies in thickness and dip and will be mined conventionally by employing a combination of mining methods. The planned optimised techno-economic development plan will be ongoing to further improve efficiencies. Due to existing face availability, minimum development will be required initially.”

Soden said a minimum of 5000 tonnes per annum (tpa) of monazite concentrate will be produced in the first phase. A proven conventional gravity separation and flotation processing plant will be used based on the successful Anglo American process in 1952.

Steenkapmskraal is fully licensed to commence mining and to produce monazite concentrate, mixed rare earth carbonate and thorium, and separated RE oxides (Phases 1, 2 and 3)

The mine will be 100% dependent on renewable energy within two years of commissioning. “As an underground mine it will have negligible surface impact, with all environmental approvals in place with ongoing rehabilitation of the historical footprint.”

“Rare earths are a critical contributor to the low-carbon energy industry while thorium is a clean energy fuel of the future and could be used in molten salt reactors. The mine’s ongoing Social and Labour Plan (SLP) projects are geared to leaving a lasting legacy with a broad-based employee equity partnership of 26% through the company’s B-BBEE structure, and management is committed to transparent and sustainable governance principles,” said Soden.

SA’s Steenkampskraal on track to produce first monazite in 2024

WhyAfrica provides on the ground information and business intelligence about the sustainable utilisation and extraction of natural resources in Africa, and can assist your company through:  

  1. Membership:
  • WhyAfrica’s membership offers great business insights to you, your company, and clients.
  • Amongst many other benefits, we will publish editorial content about you or your company on the WhyAfrica online platform and on all WhyAfrica’s social media pages – the annual fee is R5,500 and you can find out more or subscribe here: https://www.whyafrica.co.za/product/membership/ 
  1. Sponsorship:
  • WhyAfrica’s Road Trip takes place annually in July and August. During our Road Trip we aim to visit more than 30 project sites. Sponsoring the Road Trip, or to be a WhyAfrica member, gives you unparalleled insight into the business environment of the countries that we travel to and the project sites we visit.
  • To be a member or sponsor allows you access to invaluable, on the ground, business intelligence and a great marketing opportunity for all companies doing business in Africa.
  • The main aim of our Road Trips is to promote Africa as an investment destination and to showcase Africa’s greatest companies, and projects to our large global audience, which includes a list of potential investors, venture capitalists and serial entrepreneurs.
  • To view the photos of this year’s Southern Africa Road Trip click on the gallery link or follow our Instagram account at why.africa https://www.whyafrica.co.za/road-trips/whyafrica-road-trips/. 
  1. Advertising:
  • We publish daily online articles on our WhyAfrica platform and post them on social media every day. Our combined online reach is more than 45,000. In-article banner ads are highly successful advertising tools as is advertising space on our website.
  • In addition to our bi-weekly newsletters, we publish two printed- and two interactive digital magazines per year. The printed magazines are distributed at major events and conferences throughout the year, and also on our WhyAfrica Road trips.
  • Digital magazines are e-mailed to all our subscribers and shared on our social media platforms. A copy of the latest edition is automatically attached to all our outgoing e-mails.
  • WhyAfrica magazines provide great marketing opportunities. There are also in-article and on-line advertising opportunities at exceptional rates. Contact me for more information on leon@whyafrica.co.za or give me a call.
  • To subscribe to WhyAfrica’s free newsletters and magazines click on the link and register: https://www.whyafrica.co.za/subscribe/  
  1. 4. Partnerships
  • Maximise your African exposure and link with our large business network through becoming one of only 10 WhyAfrica partners. We have only five prime partnership positions left for 2023, so contact me at leon@whyafrica.co.za to get the best deal.

SA’s Steenkampskraal on track to produce first monazite in 2024


Share Article


AgricultureEnvironmental Management & Climate ChangeEnergyESGInfrastructureMiningPolitical EconomyTourism and ConservationWater Management