The Gakara Rare Earth Project is one of the world’s richest rare earth deposits. It is located in Western Burundi, approximately 20km south-southeast of Bujumbura and covers a combined area of approximately 135km². There is good infrastructure near to the Gakara Project, with good road links to Dar es Salaam, Tanzania and Mombasa, Kenya.
Rainbow was granted a mining licence in March 2015 and is valid for 25 years, and is renewable thereafter. Rainbow has a 90% interest in the Gakara Project with a non-dilutable 10% owned by the State.
Historical mining at the site demonstrates the consistency of the grade and mineralisation of the concentrate whilst also providing significant detail and validation of the vein/stockwork rare earth mineralisation system.
Geology & Exploration Upside
The mineralised veins at the Gakara Project are discrete and narrow, and the mineralised material separates easily from the less dense host rock which, in itself, is amenable to manual digging. The veins range in thickness from a few centimetres to a few tens of centimetres. The veins have been shown to typically extend laterally for tens of metres, the longest recorded being over 80 metres, and have been observed to extend down to depths greater than 25 metres. The veins outcrop at surface on steep slopes or river incisions but are frequently under cover.
At the time that Rainbow submitted its application for the Mining Licence, a feasibility study was also submitted under which the Company committed to an estimated work programme to allow it to begin operations. This work programme was included in the Mining Licence, but has since been revised and refined over the past two years in discussion with the Ministry though regular face to face meetings and quarterly and annual reports and the Mining Licence remains in good standing.
Exploration work undertaken by Rainbow to date at the Gakara Project includes mapping of geological traverses, geophysical and geochemical orientation surveys and the collection of 150 grab samples from REE veins which were submitted for analysis by an independent laboratory, ALS Chemex. The samples analysed by ALS Chemex yielded consistently high grades with an average of approximately 58% total REO and a range of between 47 and 67% total REO. Based on the average of samples of Gakara vein material, magnet REEs (principally neodymium, praseodymium and dysprosium) account for approximately 22% of the contained REOs within the Gakara ore, representing an average of approximately 80% of the contained value of REOs at current market prices.
More recent work by Rainbow includes the completion of airborne magnetic survey which demonstrated potential for at least four large and highly prospective anomalies for a carbonatite source for Gakara’s rare earth veins providing significant exploration upside potential. The anomalies range in diameter from 300m to 2,700m and have modelled starting depths of 20m to 67m.
In 2018, Rainbow will initiate its maiden drilling campaign, designed to investigate the geological anomalies, as well as providing the foundation for the calculation of a potential maiden JORC Resource. Additionally, several ground based gravity surveys and geochemical analysis are planned.
Competent Person’s Report
In September 2016, the Company commissioned MSA Group to prepare an independent Competent Person’s Report on the Gakara Project. To see the full Competent Person’s Report, click here (from page 146).
The Gakara Project is considered by MSA Group to be an Exploration Target, as defined in the JORC Code.
MSA Group has calculated an Exploration Target of between 20,000 and 80,000 tonnes of mineralised material grading 47-67% total REO. The potential tonnage and grade is conceptual in nature as there is insufficient exploration data to define a Mineral Resource and it is uncertain if future exploration will result in the Exploration Target being reported as a Mineral Resource. MSA Group notes that there is scope for further exploration in the Gakara Project area which may result in additional potential being identified.
In September 2017, Rainbow commenced ore extraction at the Gasagwe site and in December 2017, announced inaugural production and sales of its mineral concentrate. High grade rare earths mineral concentrate is now successfully exported from Burundi, via road to Port of Mombasa in Kenya, where it is shipped to end customers secured by thyssenkrupp Raw Materials under the existing distribution and offtake agreement for up to 10,000tpa of rare earth concentrate material.
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