Rainbow Rare Earths has acquired ten mining claims covering an area 12.6km² in northern Zimbabwe to expand operations beyond Burundi where it runs Gakara, Africa’s only rare earths producing mine.
Zimbabwe is geologically well known as hosting a large number of minerals, including gold, battery metals, coal, platinum group metals (PGM) and chrome resources. Zimbabwe has the second largest PGM and chrome resources globally.
The ten properties acquired by Rainbow have previously been explored for phosphate. A 2002 report by the US Geological Survey identified Kapfrugwa (also known as Gungwa) deposit as probably hosting Cerium and Lanthanum.
Rainbow has acquired these licenses through its wholly owned Zimbabwe subsidiary. The licenses will be held 100% by Rainbow Zimbabwe, with no free carry for the government, in line with recent changes to the legal framework covering mining in Zimbabwe.
Rainbow will immediately commence with an exploration program including geological mapping, sampling and assaying with the aim to conclude an interpretation report with focus on REE potential, namely sizes, grades and mineralogy.
Commenting on the acquisition, Rainbow CEO George Bennet said: "With our strategic intent for our licenses in Burundi well on track, the Company stabilised, I believe this is a great opportunity to diversify the portfolio, with low risk and minimal capital outlay.”
Rare earths are a group of 17 chemical elements used in everything from high-tech consumer electronics to military equipment. Their strategic importance has increased this year due to fears that top producer China will restrict supply to the United States as the ongoing trade war between the two countries worsens.
Rainbow's focus is the Gakara Project in Burundi, one of the highest-grade (47%-67% Total Rare Earth Oxide) rare earths projects globally and the only African producer.
The Company began production of rare earth concentrates in Q4 2017 and has a ten-year distribution and offtake agreement with multinational ThyssenKrupp Materials Trading secured for the sale of at least 5,000tpa of concentrate produced.