Rainbow Rare Earths Ltd (LON:RBW) Chief Executive Officer Martin Eales caught up with DirectorsTalk for an exclusive interview to discuss their maiden JORC mineral resource estimate.
Q1: First off, congratulations on publishing your maiden JORC resource at Gakara, can you talk us through the findings and are they as you expected them to be?
A1: Well, the findings are very positive we’re extremely excited about what we’ve been able to announce today, bearing in mind this is the first resource for the project.
What we’ve announced this morning is that we have a JORC-compliant resource of over 1.2 million tonnes of ore, it only covers a very small portion of our licence area in Burundi. Indeed, we said in the announcement it’s only touching on 4 of the 28 prospect or target areas we have in the mining licence so we’re still a long way to go and a lot of upside to come.
What we’ve been able to announce is a continuation of the very high-grade veins of rare earths so 3 of the 4 areas and they’re called Gasagwe, Murambi South and Gomvyi Centre. We have over 12,000 tonnes of the very high-grade vein material which, in itself is 2-3 years of feed for our production plant once we hit 5,000 tonnes a year.
Alongside that, we found something very different and it’s at the area called Kiyenzi and there we found a much larger mineralised deposit, it has a lower grade which implies it is potentially the carbonatite source of our high-grade veins and that’s where we have over 1 million tonnes of resource at a 1% cut-off averaging 2.2% TREO.
So, it’s much more similar to a typically rare earth deposit, around the world these deposits average about 1%-4% TREO so it’s smack bang in the middle of that range but it’s exciting for us because it’s potentially so large.
Q2: I think you pointed out that there’s also significant further upside potential to the resource, how could this impact your current production rates?
A2: We’ve already announced that we want to increase our production as quickly as we can, and we will be bringing both Gomvyi and Kiyenzi into production during the course of next year so there will be an increase form where we are now which is great news.
I think the thing to note about Kiyenzi is because of the lower grade, albeit it’s lower grade interspersed with much higher grade breccia style deposits that we’ve already test processed in our plant, we will be looking at the metallurgy testing and ways to be exploit some of this lower grade material.
Even in the short to medium term, we believe we’ve got enough of the high-grade vein deposits to match our production targets.
Q3: It’s obviously a very exciting time for the company but when are you planning to bring the new mining areas into production?
A3: Well, I think it will be during the course of next year, I can’t give you a precise month just yet, there’s various processes we have to go through with every new mining area and we’ve just had that experience in opening our second mine here at Murambi which came on stream in Q4 of 2018.
So, we’re getting much more efficient at finding our way through the processes for each mining area and hopefully the subsequent ones will be even quicker than we achieved on Murambi. I think next year is looking very positive, I wouldn’t like to commit myself to a month or a quarter just yet, as we work up our plans in the early part of 2019, we can give a bit more clarity on that.
Q4: Looking at next year, what are the plans for Rainbow Rare Earths?
A4: It’s more of the same actually. It’s getting production up, it’s certainly getting mining area number 3 and number 4 going as soon as possible and committing ourselves to working up some of the other of the 28 mineralised areas into what will be subsequent mining areas so number 5 and number 6.
We’ve got a very efficient process now for confirming to ourselves, the veins we know are there, working out their extent, direction, coming up with mining plans and then navigating the necessary paperwork to start each area. So, there’ll be more of that next year.
I think the resource today underlines the deposit we have, we’ve always known there’s lots there but now we can say in accordance with the rules under JORC that we have a resource for the first time. So, it’s a significant milestone for us.