Rainbow Rare Earths reports that key global macroeconomic trends are expected to drive a strong and diversified demand for neodymium and praseodymium (NdPr), which analysts suggest will lead to a significant supply deficit over the medium term underpinning strong pricing.
To meet this deficit, Rainbow has signed a codevelopment agreement with Bosveld Phosphates to develop the Phalaborwa rare earth project in South Africa, recovering rare earths from gypsum stacks resulting from historic phosphate hard rock mining.
Phalaborwa represents an “exciting near-term growth opportunity” for Rainbow, the company states.
Initial assay results of the project indicate an average in situ grade of 0.5% total rare earth oxides, of which between 29% to 30% comprise high-value NdPr.
ANSTO Minerals is performing tests to confirm the metallurgical variability within the gypsum stacks at Phalaborwa, following which metallurgical test work will be carried out to produce an enhanced process flow sheet for the preliminary economic assessment/scoping study.
As a result of the “unique” nature of the project, Rainbow says Phalaborwa is expected to be brought into production far quicker and with a lower capital intensity than a traditional hard-rock rare earths mining project.
Meanwhile, the miner also notes that ongoing trial mining continues to demonstrate Gakara’s considerable potential, with 300 t of concentrate having been produced in the first half of its 2021 financial year (ended December 31, 2020). This is up from the 114 t produced in the six months to December 31, 2019.
Further, Rainbow has confirmed the viability of a 10 000 t/y downstream processing plant for Gakara, reinforcing the potential of the mine’s robust long-term economics.
CEO George Bennett says the company is now “well positioned for success” as London’s only listed producing rare earths company with both country and project diversification.
“The supply/demand fundamentals in the NdPr market present Rainbow with an exciting opportunity and we are confident in our capacity to become a globally significant producer of rare earth metals and to take advantage of the favourable market outlook.”
In terms of health and safety, the miner also notes that, for the last six months of the 2020 calendar year, it reported no lost-time injuries, thereby bringing the total to 22 months of production with zero lost-time injuries.
Rainbow also notes that it has enacted effective measures to address Covid-19, measures which remain in place, enabling operations to continue to run largely as normal.