Altona makes two 'experienced' rare earth consultant appointments
Africa-focussed rare earth element mining exploration company Altona Energy announced the appointment of two “highly experienced” consultants on Monday, with immediate effect.
The firm said the appointments were made to help progress the proposed acquisition of Akatswiri Rare Earth, as it announced on 2 June, and also to consider further possible investments in similar rare earth element projects in Africa.
“The board, taking note of the historic failings of Altona, is cognisant that to provide the best opportunity for success in developing highly technical mining projects, it needs to work closely, from day one, with a team of qualified advisers,” the directors said in their statement.
Altona said the first appointment was consultant metallurgist Gavin Beer, who has more than 30 years of experience in technical and operational roles, and spent the last 13 years exclusively working within the rare earth and energy materials sector.
He has been employed by, or has consulted to, more than 12 rare earth element companies, including Arafura Resources, Peak Resources, Hastings Technology Metals and Pensana Metals.
Beer is currently engaged by Neometals as general manager of metallurgy, and has been retained by RareX and Hexagon Resources as a technical advisor.
Altona said he is a member and chartered professional of the Australasian Institute of Mining and Metallurgy.
He is also recognised as a competent person for JORC compliance, and as a qualified person for NI 43-101 with respect to his metallurgical expertise, and is reportedly recognised as a “leading metallurgical expert” in the rare earth industry.
The second appointment was consultant geologist Cedric Simonet, who holds a PhD in geology and has 25 years of experience exploring, developing and mining mineral deposits in Africa and in France.
He was head geologist and open pit manager at the Sogerem fluorspar mine operated by Alcan in France, and Africa region manager with IGE Resources.
Simonet is a co-founder of Akili Minerals Services - a Nairobi-based exploration services company - and has been involved in a number of exploration projects on rare earth element-carbonatites in Kenya, including Ruri, Homa Mountain, Buru and Mrima.
He is also a former chairman of the Kenya Chamber of Mines, and was “well experienced” in operating in that and a number of other African countries, Altona said.
Simonet is a member of the European Geologists Federation, and qualifies to act as a competent person under JORC, and as a qualified person under NI 43-101 on rare earth element-carbonatite exploration projects.
“We are delighted to announce the appointment of Gavin and Cedric to work alongside the board of Altona in their capacity as consultant metallurgist and geologist, respectively,” said interim chief executive officer Christian Taylor-Wilkinson.
“Their collective experience provides a significant level of knowledge that should offer shareholders a high degree of comfort to the timely development of the projects into which we are embarking.”
Taylor-Wilkinson said the “global increase” in the demand for electric vehicles was driving demand for rare earth elements, particularly neodymium and praseodymium, known commonly as ‘NdPr’, as well as other “technology metals” used in permanent magnets - a key component in electric vehicle manufacturing.
“This evidence is, we believe, strong enough for Altona to pursue a strategy of investments in this sector.”