March 21, 2012 (Source: Reuter) — Canada-based minerals and metals firm Pacific Wildcat Resources has said it will drill this year at a new site in Kenya that has shown potential for rare earth deposits.
The company said tests had established the presence of high grade deposits of rare earth on Kiruku Hill, just three kilometers from its current Mrima Hill niobium and rare earth project site near the port city of Mombasa.
"These results have further confirmed the prospectivity of Kiruku Hill for rare earth mineralisation," Pacific Wildcat President Darren Townsend said in a statement late on Tuesday.
Rare earths are vital in manufacturing high-tech electronics products such as highly specialised miniature nuclear batteries, laser repeaters, super conductors and miniature magnets.
An acute global shortage of rare earth has triggered a spike in exploration and prices.
China, which accounts for an estimated 97 percent of global rare earth supplies, has been tightening trade in the strategic metals, sparking a jump in prices.
Japan, which accounts for a third of global demand, has been stung badly, and has been looking to diversify its supply sources, particularly of heavy rare earths such as dysprosium used in magnets.
The United States, Europe and Japan last week joined forces to challenge China's restrictions on exports of rare earth minerals critical to the manufacture of advanced technology.
Pacific Wildcat said in February it had found larger niobium and rare earth reserves on Mrima Hill site than earlier projected.
Niobium is mixed with steel to create a strong alloy used in the construction of pipes for water and sewage systems and components used in various types of vehicles.