Foreign Companies Vie for Madagascar Rare Earths

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By Esther Tanquintic-Misa | November 17, 2011 4:42 PM EST

At least four foreign resource firms have expressed interest in working with Mumbai-based Varun Industries after it announced the discovery of heavy minerals reserves at its lands in Madagascar.

China's Naicher Advanced Materials, UK's Blastrite, Australia's Iluka Resources, and Canada's Medallion Resources have initiated negotiations for a possible equity stake in Varun Energy Corp Madagascar, the Madagascar arm of Varun Industries, the India Times reported. 

The talks contained an option of an assured offtake agreement on heavy minerals. Varun Energy Corp is a wholly owned subsidiary of the Rs 4,000-crore Varun Industries. It has been allotted 10 blocks of heavy mineral rare earth deposits in Madagascar. 

Varun Industries recently announced discovering 267 million tonnes of heavy minerals, including precious rare earths, from the blocks. Initial tests indicated ore with strengths of 29 per cent. A subsequent test undertaken by Australia's CPG Mineral Technologies certified the ores have an average mineral content of 46.5 per cent. 

India Times reported Varun Energy had entered into a memorandum of understanding with India's department of atomic energy to sell heavy minerals concentrate mined from the blocks in Madagascar. 

Varun Industries recently signed an agreement with Australian company Cluff Resources Pacific NL for a joint venture to explore and develop gold, platinum and gem stone projects in southern Madagascar. 

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