Serengeti Road Plan And The Search For Rare Earths
A proposed highway through one of the natural wonders of the world, the Serengeti National Park, is coming under harsh criticism from environmental groups. The irony is that rare earth elements needed for green energy may harm one of the world's last untouched natural wonders.
By Michael Montgomery—Exclusive to Rare Earth Investing NewsThe Lake Victoria region in central Africa and the nation of Tanzania is the focus of environmental groups around the world for a proposed road through the Serengeti Park. The road is being created mainly to transport minerals from the area surrounding Lake Victoria, including rare earth elements, gold and other minerals. However, at the time this article was written, I could find no rare earth companies operating in the region. The Serengeti is one of the last places on earth blessed with a rich biodiversity that resembles what the world looked like a million years ago. Its vast expanse is the habitat of hippos and lions as well as herds of wildebeests and zebras that total in the millions. The natural wonders of the park draw tourists from around the world. The proposed road bisects the park from Lake Victoria to the West traveling across the migratory routes of the animals, towards the shipping ports on the eastern coast. The biggest purchasers of minerals from Tanzania are China, followed by India and Japan. The main rare earth deposit in Tanzania is the Wigu Hill deposit owned by Montero Mining. The deposit is south east of the Serengeti Park, and the transportation of the minerals will not be on the proposed highway. The deposit is said to have high concentrations of REE's with none of the radioactive elements, such as thorium and uranium, usually associated with the mining of rare earths. The deposit has a historical resource estimate with an “average 14.5% total REO (range 12.7-16.5%) and are dominated by the light rare earths (LREE): lanthanum, cerium, praseodymium and neodymium constitute over 95% of the total,” according to the company. Another company with interests in the region is Lake Victoria Mining Company (OTC: LVCA). The company also owns the subsidiary Kilimanjaro Mining Company that has numerous deposits in the region in question. The company mainly mines gold and uranium in the region and may benefit from the proposed road. There are also many other companies in the region. This situation further highlights the dichotomy in the rare earth market. Many of the metals are essential to green technologies, whether used in wind turbines, hybrid and electric automobile motors; however, the mining of the minerals is environmentally costly. The people who purchase hybrid vehicles and call for increased renewable energy sources often overlook the mining of these elements has the potential to lead to the degradation of the environment.