First identified at Ambato in 1912 and exploited by artisanal miners for jewellery in the 60’s and 70’s, bastnaesite is one of only three Rare Earth Minerals that has been commercially exploited, bastnaesite mineralisation is clearly visible in outcrops at Ambato.
Mineralogical tests on grab samples show Bastnaesite comprises more than 90% of the contained REE and gangue mineral is predominantly quartz.
In 2010, twenty-eight rock-chip samples were collected by Tana from the Ankazohambo prospect and returned TREO grades of between 0.14% and 40.8% with a median grade of 3.95%. The results confirm earlier sampling conducted by the Kiev National University in 2008 and the German Federal Institute of Geology and Raw Materials (BGR) in the 1980’s.
The tenement area has been subject to a number of studies by the local Bureau of Geological Research Ministry (BGRM), the French, German and Soviet agencies. The work has consistently returned high-grade rare earth element mineralisation at surface but Ambato has never been drilled.
Ambato is located 200km south of the capital Antananarivo along the Route Nationale 7 and approximately 60km south the nearest railhead at Antsirabe which connects to the main cargo port of Toamasina.
The transport infrastructure is in fair but useable condition and considered adequate for the export of the relatively small tonnages of REE concentrates.