The Southern African Institute of Mining and Metallurgy (SAIMM) was founded in 1894. The 125-year-old professional body has broad local and international links across mining, metallurgy, and related sectors. On the 18th and 19th October 2021 SAIMM hosted the Southern African Rare Earths International Conference
The conference focused on primary production of REEs, with specific emphasis on:
- Geology and exploration
- Beneficiation and refining
- Applications and new technological developments
- Policies and environmental aspects
- Market opportunities and outlook for the REE industry.
In Southern Africa, driving the growth in the REE industry, there is an opportunity to establish regional centres of excellence in REEs innovation.
REE projects presented at the conference included:
- Eureka, Namibia (E-Tech Resources)
- Steenkampskraal, RSA
- Lofdal, Namibia
- Ondoto, Namibia
- Zandkopsdrift, RSA
- Wigu Hill, Tanzania
- Eisenberg, Namibia
- REEs from coal fly ash and other related residues in RSA.
Talks also covered the importance of process mineralogy and challenges to beneficiation and metallurgy in rare earths (well represented by Mintek of Johannesburg), and responsible management of radioactivity in rare earth industry by Philip Metcalf of International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA).
Industry perspectives were given by Nils Backenberg of Roskill-WoodMacKenzie, and by Corby Anderson from Colorado School of Mines, USA. Geological and geo-metallurgical overviews and contexts were given by well-known rare earth geologists Jock Harmer and Pete Siegfried.
In last few years there has been interest in developing downstream capacity for refining, through the Southern African Centralized Rare Earth Refinery (SACREF). The conference, focusing on the optimization of the primary production and refining of rare earth metals, stimulated the debate and actions on creating opportunities for the Southern African rare earths industry.