The rare earths market has received a major boost recently by Tesla incorporating magnets in its mass market model 3 electric car.
Originally, Elon Musk’s brainchild had tried to do without rare earths magnets, but the Model 3 will have a 258-horsepower AC 3-phase permanent magnet motor.
Martin Eales, Rainbow’s chief executive, said the plan is to raise production to from around 3,900 tonnes of concentrate to 5,000 tonnes per year.
In August, Rainbow Rare reported even better grades than expected at the Gasgawe target on its Gakara licence in Burundi.
Lab testing of ore from the main vein at Gasagwe returned an average Total Rare Earth Oxide (TREO) grade of 62.17%, which compared with an average 57% in veins across the rest of the 39 sq km licence published in the competent person’s report.
Eales added: "This really is fantastic news. We always knew that the Gakara Project was capable of delivering grades far in excess of industry norms, but to get this level of average TREO content from our first mining area is a wonderful boost as higher grade means that we shall achieve higher prices for each tonne of concentrate sold.”
Gasagwe is scheduled to go into production later this year and a distribution deal with German engineering giant ThyssenKrupp is already in place.
Value of a basket of rare earths from its licence rises by a third
Rainbow said the lab tests confirm Gakara is one of the highest grade rare earth element mining projects in the world.
The tests also showed the ore contained very lows of the radioactive elements uranium and thorium, which would have to be stripped out if they are too prevalent.
In another boost, Rainbow said the value of a basket of rare earths from its licence had risen by a third this year to US$13.18, though this is a gross number and customers will pay a discount to the basket price dependent on what elements they want.
Cerium Oxide and Lanthanum Oxide were the two most common elements though there were also notable traces of Neodymium Oxide and Praseodymium Oxide.
Rare earth elements have very strong magnetic properties and are used most commonly in modern electronic devices such as mobile phones.
“We are now gearing up towards our first production and sales of high-grade concentrate through our multinational distribution partner Thyssenkrupp Raw Materials in Q4 2017," Eales added.