By Bill Corcoran, in Cape Town
South Africa has deposits of rare earth elements (REEs) to rival that of Australia, and the country is poised to take advantage of this increasingly strategic resource, according to Mintek, the governments mineral technology organisation.
The most recent US Geological Survey (USGS) report on worldwide rare earth mineral reserves estimates that South Africa has around 1m tonnes of these minerals, compared with the 5m tonnes potential Australia is said to have.
However, Peter Craven, Mintek general manager for business development, believes the figures for South Africa in the USGS 2010 report are a gross underestimation of the resource, as they are based solely on past geological activities in the country.
The USGS did not take heavy mineral sands into account, and there is huge potential to find exploitable REEs in this area along the east coast of South Africa right up...