The rare earth metals ( REM ) earlier discovered from the Kwale project in Kenya's coastal region have been found to extend beyond the 30 meters reported earlier, giving estimations the country has the potential to earn more than the Sh270 billion anticipated from the project
Latest drilling activities into the Kwale project showed the presence of REM spreads to about 100 meters.
Canada-based minerals and metals firm Pacific Wildcat Resources, which co-owns the mine along with Cortec Mining Kenya, had already planned on applying a mining lease within the quarter to explore niobium and REM.
In a statement, Pacific Wildcat Resources said the high grade niobium found in the four holes drilled extends deeper than anticipated, supporting potential for a considerable resource target.
Niobium is used to create making construction pipes and vehicle components, as well as in strengthening steel in the application of spacecraft parts. Alloys from niobium and steel are also used to make welding rods, stainless steel products, and optical lenses.
REM is crucial for high-tech electronic products such as specialized small nuclear batteries, laser repeaters, super conductors, and other miniature magnets.
China is the world's major stronghold of rare earth metals, controlling 95 per cent of the REM market. Two years ago, China started slashing export quotas as it closed some of its rare earth processors due to environmental concerns. Since then, prices of REM have grown by as much as 1,500 per cent on average in the last year alone.