* To seek mining lease in Q4, 2011
* Carrying out an environment impact study
NAIROBI Nov 11 Canada-based minerals and
metals firm Pacific Wildcat Resources plans to apply for
a mining lease within this quarter, for exploitation of niobium
and rare earth minerals at its Kenyan mining project near the
port city of Mombasa.
The company said it has established a significant presence
of niobium and rare earth oxide minerals in five diamond
drilling holes at its site at Mrima Hill.
Environmental studies on the Mrima prospect are expected to
be concluded within this quarter and application for a mining
lease placed to the Kenyan government, the company said in an
update seen by Reuters late on Thursday.
"Existing license to explore within forest reserve in place,
further approvals required for mining," Pacific Wildcat said.
Niobium is mixed with steel to create a strong alloy used in
the construction of pipes for water and sewage systems and
components used in various types of vehicles.
The alloys from niobium and steel are also used in the
creation of welding rods and several stainless steel products
used in homes. Niobium has also become popular in the production
of optical lenses.
Rare earths are crucial in making high-tech electronics
products such as highly specialised miniature nuclear batteries,
laser repeaters, super conductors and miniature magnets.
An acute global shortage has triggered a spike in mining
projects for the minerals in recent years.
China, which accounts for an estimated 97 percent of global
rare earth supply, has been tightening trade in the strategic
metals, sparking an explosion in prices.
Japan, which accounts for a third of global demand, has been
stung badly, and has been looking to diversify its supply
sources, particularly of heavy rare earths such as dysprosium
used in magnets.