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    Rainbow Rare Earths positive in PrNd oxide long term demand
    ----Interview with Martin Eales
    Rainbow Rare Earths Ltd.
    Rainbow Rare Earths is a mining company focussed on the development of their high grade Gakara Rare Earth Project in Burundi, East Africa. With in-situ grades in the range of 47-67% total rare earth oxide (TREO), Gakara is one of the world’s richest rare earth deposits. First production and sales to Rainbow’s offtake partner, thyssenkrupp Materials Trading, commenced in Q4 2017.

    Asian Metal: Thanks for accepting the interview of Asian Metal, Martin! Although I believe a lot of participants know Rainbow Rare Earths, would you like to give a brief introduction of your company firstly?

    Martin: Rainbow Rare Earths is a relatively small mining company listed on the London Stock Exchange in the UK, having IPO’d in January 2017. We used the initial funds raised from the stock market to finance the construction of our mine and processing plant during 2017 and our first export of rare earth mineral concentrate was made in December 2017 and we have continued to produce rare earth concentrate on a commercial basis since then.

    Asian Metal: Would you please introduce your Gakara Rare Earth project?

    Martin: Our Project is located in the small East African country of Burundi. The area was mined on a commercial basis for rare earths in the 1950s-1970s, but the project lay dormant for around 35 years before Rainbow started exploration works in 2011. The most surprising aspect of our deposit is that we have a ‘stockwork’ of very high grade veins (typically 47% - 67% TREO) that can be mined in low volumes on a cost effective basis with a small fleet of machinery and without the need for blasting or underground mining.
    We produce and sell a mixed rare earth concentrate which averages about 58% TREO and within our basket of rare earths PrNd makes up around 19% of our total rare earths and drives the bulk of our sales value.

    Asian Metal: Africa is rich in rare earth resources. Would you like to introduce some African rare earth deposits?

    Martin: Yes, it is true that there are many known deposits of rare earths in Africa but at present Rainbow has the only operating mine. There are development stage projects in countries such as Tanzania, Malawi, Namibia and Angola but most of these projects still have to invest hundreds of millions of US dollars before they can reach consistent commercial production.

    Asian Metal: We all know that developing a rare earth mine need to overcome a lot of difficulties. Would you like share your opinion about what are the major challenges of developing an African rare earth deposits?

    Martin: As I just said, the most critical barrier to developing most projects is the financing required to construct a project. A ‘typical’ rare earth project envisages processing mined ore right the way through to mixed carbonates or separated rare earth oxides and therefore requires high capital expenditure. Because Rainbow’s ore starts at such a high grade, we have been able to commence production for a much lower capital expenditure and our concentrate product does not require much expensive processing.
    As well as financing, rare earth projects need to ensure that they cani satisfy all of the mining licence requirements applicable to the country they operate in and to ensure that they meet the highest environmental standards.

    Asian Metal: Would you please share your opinions about why some African projects failed to come into production?

    Martin: In recent years I do not think that market prices for the bulk of rare earth products have been high enough to demonstrate the economic feasibility of many of the African projects and so they have so far not been able to attract all of the funding they need for commencement of construction.

    Asian Metal: May I know how did Rainbow Rare Earths overcome these challenges and succeeded in producing rare earth concentrate?

    Martin: The key advantage for Rainbow is the very high grade of the rare earth ore that we mine, which means that we have needed to invest in only a relatively small mining fleet and processing plant. The volumes that we mine on a monthly basis are very small compared to most mining projects. Our concentrate product is relatively simple and does not need much processing by us – just concentration using gravity separation – so again our costs are kept low.

    Asian Metal: As far as I know, the sales volumes of Rainbow Rare Earths in Q1, Q2, Q3, Q4 of 2018 and Q1 of 2019 were 125t, 350t, 350t, 300t and 100t respectively. May I know how you fix prices when you are selling material? Do you take some website's prices for reference?

    Martin: Yes! Typically we refer to prices published by Asian Metals for separated rare earth oxides so we can calculate the ‘metal content’ of our mixed mineral concentrates. We then agree a fixed discount to that metal content value with our customers to reflect the costs of processing that material into separated rare earths.

    Asian Metal: Would you like to introduce the current rare earth concentrate output of Gakara Rare Earth project your production enlarging plan?

    Martin: We have plans to significantly increase our production in the second half of 2019 by investing in more machinery and operating more mining areas at the same time.

    Asian Metal: May I know how do you think about the prospect of Gakara Rare Earth project?

    Martin: We are very positive about the prospects for the Gakara project and are especially excited about the possibilities presented by further drilling and exploration across our Mining Licence area to increase our knowledge of the deposit and to potentially provide many more tons of resources that can be mined in the future.

    Asian Metal: After increasing in May, early and the middle of June, Chinese PrNd oxide market began to see sliding prices over the past weeks. Current Chinese PrNd oxide mainstream dropped to RMB335,000-340,000/t (USD48,635-49,360/t) EXW D/P, down by around 9% from one week ago but still around 30% higher than those of late April. May I know your opinion about this?

    Martin: I am not certain of all of the reasons for the recent price rises and decreases for some of the rare earth oxides, but we are positive in the long term that demand for PrNd will continue to increase due to the enlarged electric vehicle market and the relatively inflexible nature of near term supply of rare earths from new mining projects. From Rainbow’s perspective as a mining company, then rising commodity prices are positive for us because we achieve a higher sales price for our material – but we would not want a repeat of the large price spike seen in 2011, which may encourage some users to seek substitute products.

    Asian Metal: Thanks for your time. Wish you every success in your business.

    Martin: Thank you very much. Please visit www.rainbowrareearths.com for more information.
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