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LSE-listed Rainbow Rare Earths has commenced with a drilling programme and production update at its Gakara project in Burundi.Burundi - Rainbow Rare Earths, the high grade rare earth producer, announced the commencement of a drilling programme with the objective of supporting the mine plan for the currently productive areas of the licence and exploring the significant geological anomalies identified in 2017.

Gakara is one of the highest grade rare earth element mining projects globally, with an estimated in situ grade of 47-67% Total Rare Earth Oxide (TREO), and the only producing rare earths mine in Africa.

Drilling Programme

Drilling contractors have been engaged and the first phase of the drilling programme will continue through Q1 2018.

It will focus on improving the understanding of current production area at Gasagwe as well as exploring the geophysical anomalies identified by the airborne survey completed in November 2017, plus Kiyenzi, where a large sill-like oval structure potentially 22 m thick and 80 m x 100 m in size was discovered by a ground gravity survey earlier in the year.

Should these drill results prove positive, a second phase of drilling will take place during Q2 and Q3 2018, with the aim of producing a JORC-compliant resource statement in H2 2018.

Production

Following the announcement of the first shipment of concentrate on 5 December 2017, a further two shipments have now taken place.

Production ramp-up has been proceeding according to plan, with the target of hitting a run rate of 5 000 tpa by the end of 2018.

In addition, work has begun to procure the capital equipment needed to increase production more rapidly, following the successful fundraising concluded in December 2017.

Updates during 2018

The results of each stage of the drilling campaign will be released as soon as the information is available, with first phase information expected in April 2018.

In addition to full year and interim financial results, Rainbow Rare Earths intends to release quarterly production and cost updates during the month following each quarter end; the first quarterly update should therefore be expected in April 2018.

“2017 was a year of delivery for Rainbow Rare Earths which saw us hit all of our targets on budget and on schedule to become a high-grade concentrate producer at the only producing rare earths mine in Africa," comments Rainbow Rare Earths CEO Martin Eales.

"2018 is set to be a year of growth with commercial production and sales now underway," he continues

“With the forecast demand in electric vehicles driving the growth for REEs and a strong cash balance following an oversubscribed institutional fundraising in December, we are in an excellent position to accelerate development at Gakara.

"As such we are now commencing a drill programme to include the four exciting anomalies we identified in Q4 2017 and with a view to potentially delivering a maiden JORC Resource in the second half of 2018 and reaching our new production target of 6 000 tpa during 2019.

"I look forward to reporting on our exploration programme as we continue to ramp up production at Gakara over the course of 2018," notes Eales.

Feature image credit: Rainbow Rare Earths