Rhodia, a member of the Solvay Group, and Tantalus Rare Earths have announced the signing of a letter of intent relating to technical co-operation for the development of an optimal process for generating rare earth concentrates from the large near surface Tantalus rare earth project in Madagascar and the exclusive supply of these rare earth products to Rhodia. The Tantalus project is emerging as one of the largest clay hosted rare earth resources outside of China, with 130 Mt of rare earth bearing clays already identified from a small portion of the project area on the Ampasindava Peninsula in north-western Madagascar.
Analysis of the Tantalus material has shown that approximately 20% of the rare earths are in the valuable “heavy” category. A definitive technical co-operation agreement and offtake agreement for up to 15,000 t/y of rare earth products from Tantalus will follow the letter of intent. Tantalus CEO Mr David Rigoll said: “After discussions with all of the major participants in the rare earths processing and supply sector, we are pleased to have agreed terms with the world’s number one producer of rare earth products Rhodia as our exclusive technical and marketing partner to assist in fast-tracking our Tantalus project to commercial production.” Fréderic Carencotte, Industrial Director for Rhodia Rare Earth Systems, added: “This agreement represents a further step in our sourcing diversification strategy. The composition and nature of this deposit, i.e. ionic clays, seems very promising for reliable and competitive access to heavy rare earths.”