LSE-listed Rainbow Rare Earths has reported that as part of its strategy to enhance its already strong portfolio of rare earth properties, it has acquired 10 mining claims covering a total of 12.6km² in northern Zimbabwe.
It said that 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 properties, while not historically explored for rare earths, have been explored for phosphate in the past.
Rainbow CEO George Bennet said: “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,” the company said.
He added that a report by the US Geological Survey, published in 2002, provides a record of rare earth element (REE) content in the Kapfrugwa (also known as Gungwa) deposit, which is described as “probably a metamorphosed carbonatite containing several thousand ppm Cerium and Lanthanum.”
Bennet explained that the company will immediately commence with an exploration programme including geological mapping, sampling and assaying with the aim to conclude an interpretation report with focus on REE potential, namely sizes, grades and mineralogy.
Bennet added: “With our strategic intent for our licenses in Burundi well on track, and the company stabilised, I believe this is a great opportunity to diversify the portfolio, with low risk and minimal capital outlay.”
Rainbow’s focus is the Gakara Project in Burundi, one of the highest-grade (47%-67% rotal rare earth oxide) rare earths projects globally and the only African producer.
The company began production of rare earth concentrates in the fourth quarter of 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.
The Gakara basket is weighted heavily towards the magnet rare earths, including neodymium and praseodymium, which are driving demand and account for 70% of annual global REE sales due to their use in vital components in motors, generators, wind turbines, and electric vehicles.