HomeBusiness and policyRare Earths co-development project in South Africa announced

Rare Earths co-development project in South Africa announced

Rainbow Rare Earths has signed a binding Agreement for Co-Development of the Phalaborwa Rare Earths Project with Bosveld Phosphates. 

The project comprises approximately 35 Mt of gypsum resulting from historic phosphate hard rock mining, containing rare earth elements with an estimated average in situ grade of 0.6% Total Rare Earth Oxides, based on previous sampling campaigns.

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George Bennett, CEO, says:

“This JV represents an important and exciting step in Rainbow’s strategy to benefit from the expected growth in global demand for rare earth metals. 

“The considerable amounts of historical test work carried out to date, together with positive initial assays and successful pilot plant operations, indicate that this opportunity, in conjunction with the company’s high-grade Gakara Project, will enable Rainbow to become a very significant producer of NdPr, to power the green revolution.

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“This JV positions Rainbow as the only REE producer with both country and project diversification.”

Project highlights

  • Rainbow and Bosveld intend to jointly develop and process rare earth elements from the gypsum contained in two stacks at the Project site
  • Initial grab sample assays from the c. 35 Mt gypsum stacks indicate 0.6% TREO, indicating c. 210,000 tonnes of contained TREOs, with Neodymium and Praseodymium anticipated to constitute c. 30% of the TREO basket
  • The unique nature of these gypsum stacks results from the historic concentration of REEs during Foskor’s flotation process, followed by further upgrading in Sasol’s PhosAcid Plant, leading to REE concentration in chemical form, which enables simpler onward processing
  • Sasol developed a comprehensive process flowsheet to extract the rare earths from the gypsum, which resulted in a successful pilot plant operation, producing c. 3 tonnes of mixed rare earth carbonate at c. 80% recoveries.
  • Initial reports suggest low levels of radioactive elements like those seen at Rainbow’s Gakara Project in Burundi
  • The project is fully permitted, with an Environmental Impact Assessment completed.
  • The re-processing of these gypsum stacks carries significant environmental benefits in that it will redeposit clean, benign gypsum, which then has the potential for further use in the building and fertiliser industries