Globe Metals and Mining has signed a joint venture agreement with South African engineering firm Thuthuka Group for its Kanyika niobium project in Malawi.

Thuthuka Group will invest $10.6m in the project, funding about 85% of the bankable feasibility study (BFS), to be carried out by Thuthuka or a third party.

The investment will give Thuthuka a 25% interest in Globe’s wholly-owned African subsidiary, which is the holder of the project, Globe said.

The Thuthuka-funded elements of the BFS will include mining, environmental, infrastructure and procurement management aspects.

Globe will fund the remaining 15% of the BFS, which includes geological work, marketing and off-takes.

The BFS is scheduled to be complete in 2010 with production due to begin in 2012.

The project is expected to have an annual capacity of 3,000t grading 3,000 parts per million niobium, Globe said.