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Rare Earths
Speciality Minerals  
5 December 2017

The only rare earths mine in Africa achieves all 2017 targets

LSE-listed Rainbow Rare Earths exported its first shipment of rare earth mineral concentrate from its Gakara project in Burundi.

The Gakara project 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 company is targeting a production rate of 5 000 tpa by the end of 2018.

“Rainbow can now rightly claim to being the only producing rare earths mine in Africa, and the highest grade producer globally," comments Rainbow Rare Earths CEO Martin Eales

"We have successfully delivered on our stated strategy having developed the Gasagwe mine, constructed our processing plant to the point of final commissioning and now exported our first shipment of mineral concentrate all within 11 months of IPO," he continues.

Eales adds that this is a proud moment for all involved in the company and they now look forward to growing thier monthly production levels over the coming months targeting a 5 000 tpa run rate by the end of 2018.

“Rare earths have a vital input in some of the world’s fastest growing markets including renewable energy, electric vehicles, telecommunications and defense and due to the demand of these important technology metals prices have strengthened considerably this year.

"We are eager to further increase our production profile and as such have been exploring the Gakara licence area alongside our development work which has resulted in the recent exploration success identifying four large anomalies.

"With initial production now underway we look forward to further unlocking the value of Gakara for the benefit of our shareholders,” notes Eales.

First production of rare earths concentrate

Since its IPO in January 2017, Rainbow has targeted first production and sales of its mineral concentrate before the end of the calendar year.

Rainbow can now confirm that its first shipment of 25 metric tonnes of high grade rare earths mineral concentrate has been successfully exported from Burundi and is being transported by road to Port of Mombasa in Kenya.

From there it will be shipped to end customers secured by thyssenkrupp Raw Materials under the existing distribution and offtake agreement for up to 10 000 tpa of rare earth concentrate material.

Production of this batch of concentrate was achieved prior to completion of final commissioning of the processing plant, which is now well advanced, through a primary crushing circuit which has been capable of treating undiluted run of mine ore without requiring the gravity separation circuits incorporated within the total processing plant.

As such, this has provided an excellent basis for Rainbow to ensure that its exportation procedures comply with all applicable Burundian regulations ahead of the substantial planned ramp up in Rainbow’s production in the coming months.

Rainbow expects to move to truck convoy shipments on at least a weekly basis during Q1 2018 as production increases.

Concentrate produced from the initial phase of operations both during and immediately following full plant commissioning will be aggregated at Mombasa prior to thyssenkrupp Raw Materials establishing an optimal pattern of marine shipments with the final customers.

The bulk of Rainbow’s sales proceeds are received upon transfer of title at port rather than when goods are received by the eventual end customers.

Processing plant

The processing plant at Kabezi is now fully constructed and final commissioning is underway.

Pre-Commissioning has been completed on all of the following areas: the crushing circuit; the screening circuit; the jig and associated pumps, screen and conveyors; the fines circuit and pumps, thickener, shaking tables and filter press; and the raw water supply.

In addition the generator power plant has been commissioned and the sub station energised.

The final commissioning process is expected to take around two weeks and the plant is expected to be fully operational before month end.

Mining operations

Mining has continued to make good progress at Gasagwe and has already delivered the targeted ROM ore stockpile for the commissioning period this month.

Rainbow continues to advance its understanding of the Gasagwe deposit in order to maximise mining production and has recently made additions to the mining fleet on a rental basis in order to accelerate the rate of waste stripping in order to access the high grade vein material.

Feature image credit: Rainbow Rare Earths

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