Gakara Rare Earth Project secures $12 million funding to commence operations

by Ina King (Potgieter)

Mining house Rainbow Rare Earths has secured $12 million in investment funding to begin mining rare earth minerals at the Gakara Rare Earth Project, in Burundi’s Bujumbura province.

Considered the world’s richest rare earth deposit with a high in-situ grade of 54.3% (average) total rare earth oxide (TREO) containing familiar rare earth minerals such as bastnaesite and monazite, the Gakara Rare Earth Project will be developed for an ultimate targeted TREO production of 5 000 tpa with a long Life of Mine.

The Gakara Rare Earth Project is one of over 1 850 African mining projects – and one of 11 rare earth minerals projects – that is monitored by the Africa Mining IQ intelligence database. The development of this project will be tracked and recorded by a team of dedicated researchers, providing subscribers with detailed information and high-level access to the key role players and contracts within the project.

Devising efficient extraction

The deposits defined within the Gakara mining licence have outcropping mineral veins that, at least in the initial phase, will require simple mining methods utilising small-scale machinery and the adoption of a benching approach.

The total secured fund will be segmented into two stages, with the first involving a two-tranche $6 million convertible loan. The first of these tranches, in turn, is allocated to the study and formulation of appropriate mining methodologies and sequences for optimum mineral extraction efficiency. This work will be completed within six months of the finances being cleared. The second tranche provides for the commencement of trial mining, and the optimisation of the mining methods used.

Following a successful completion of this investment phase, a further $6 million will be invested into the project on an equity basis. These funds will be used in the expansion and upgrade of mine infrastructure to allow for the commencing of larger-scale mining.

With a significant mineral inventory base and a long Life of Mine, well understood mineralogy and robust economics, Gakara is gearing up to be a major producer of rare earth minerals. The deposit is located 40 km from Burundi’s capital, Bujumbura, with good road links to the shipping port in Dar es Salaam in Tanzania, providing sound, developed infrastructure for the transport requirements of the mine and its construction.

The Gakara deposit was first discovered in 1936, and mined from 1948–1978, before a fall in global commodity prices, making production uneconomical. Rainbow Rare Earths was granted the Mining Licence for Gakara in February 2015, following the awarding of the Gakara Exploration Licence to the company in May 2011.

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