Australian mineral explorer Peak Rare Earths has received a special mining licence (SML) for its Ngualla rare earth project in Tanzania.

The licence was awarded to Mamba Minerals Corporation Limited (MML), in which Peak owns an 84% interest, with the remaining stake owned by the Tanzanian Government.

It has a 30-year term and initially includes 18.14km², comprising the Ngualla Project deposit.

There is also scope for expansion of the SML area to later add an existing prospecting licence and a recently expired prospecting licence.

The licence’s initial term can also be amended to the shorter of 33 years and the life of the mine, and extended on application as per the rule at the time.

The Ngualla Project is situated around 147km from Mbeya in southern Tanzania.

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It is said to be among the largest, highest grade and lowest cost neodymium and praseodymium rare earth projects globally.

The project is expected to create almost 600 direct and 3,000 indirect jobs in the construction phase, and nearly 220 direct and 1,000 indirect jobs after it becomes operational.

It is expected to make Tanzania one of the key rare earth producers outside of China while facilitating the flow of more than $320m in direct foreign investment into the African country.

Last week, the firm reached a binding framework agreement with the Tanzanian Government on the project.

The framework agreement formed the basis of the government’s agreement for the licencing, development, and economic benefit sharing regarding the project’s development and operation.

It also offered the basis for the establishment of the firm’s joint venture with the government for the project.

After signing the framework agreement, Peak CEO Bardin Davis said: “It further elevates Ngualla’s position as the premier undeveloped rare earth project in the world with high-grade ore reserves, low levels of radionuclides, a fully piloted flowsheet, and a completed updated bankable feasibility study.

“We are now well positioned to progress completion of early works, offtake and financing workstreams ahead of the targeted commencement of construction in October 2023.”