Amplats

Rainbow Rare Earths has appointed George Bennett, the founder of MDM Engineering to the board as CEO with immediate effect.

Martin Eales, who has been CEO since 2014 and under whose oversight the company was transformed from an early-stage exploration play to Africa’s only producing rare earth mine, fully listed on the London Stock Exchange, is stepping down.

With over 25 years’ experience in mining, finance and management, Bennett has led a number of mining and energy companies, including Shanta (which he successfully listed on the London Stock Exchange in 2005), OreCorp, Argentum Energy, and most recently Karo Power.
 
In 2006, George established MDM Engineering, which he successfully listed on the London Stock Exchange in 2008. MDM Engineering was a mining engineering company building mineral process plants and mining infrastructure throughout Africa.

In 2014, Bennett played an instrumental role in selling the business to Foster Wheeler for US$120 million.
 
In addition, Bennett has been a partner and director with a number of leading financial, broking and advisory businesses including Fergusson Bros, Simpson Mckie, and HSBC Securities Africa.

"I am looking forward to the challenge of the role. Rainbow has a truly unique asset, with enormous potential, which is as yet largely untapped. My focus will be on setting out a clear strategy based on two areas: stabilising production at Gakara; and developing an understanding of the deposit, through a programme of exploration, combined with a robust study of how best to develop this exciting project,” says Bennett.

READ MORE: About the latest developments at Rainbow Rare Earths

More on Rainbow’s operating mine Gakara 

During the three months to 30 June 2019, operations at the company’s Gakara project in Burundi continued to be affected by seasonal rainfall, and in particular by the inability of locally-rented haul trucks to operate effectively in wet conditions.

This meant that stripping of waste was impaired, and progress was far slower than hoped.
 
Activity picked up in June in line with the dry season, with waste removal teams at both the Gasagwe and Murambi pits working double shifts to catch up on stripping. However, ore mined was lower in the quarter at 230 t, and only one batch of 100 t of concentrate was exported.
 
These production challenges clearly underlined the importance of raising finance to purchase new trucks in order to address operating efficiencies ahead of the next rainy season, which begins in October.

Orders for new items of equipment are now being put in place, in order to meet these deadlines.
 
Realised concentrate prices were also lower in the quarter, at US$1 448/t vs US$1 653/t in the quarter to 31 March 2019.