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Drilling results confirm stacks at Phalaborwa are homogenous

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Mining at the Phalaborwa pit in 2010 where Rainbow aims to now liberate rare earth oxides contained within phosphogypsum in two unconsolidated stacks derived from the historic phosphate hard rock mining. Image: Leon Louw for WhyAfrica

Drilling results confirm stacks at Phalaborwa are homogenous 

Infill drilling at Rainbow’s Phalaborwa Rare Earth Project in the Limpopo Province of South Africa has confirmed expectations that the project’s two phosphogypsum stacks are homogenous and consistent in grade. 

Rainbow wants to liberate rare earth oxides contained within phosphogypsum in two unconsolidated stacks derived from historic phosphate hard rock mining.

High value neodymium and praseodymium (NdPr) oxide, a critical building block for the global energy transition, represents 29% of the total contained rare earth oxides, with economic dysprosium and terbium oxide credits enhancing the overall value of the rare earth basket.

According to George Bennett, CEO of Rainbow Rare Earths, key workstreams have commenced to advance Phalaborwa to the Definitive Feasibility Study (DFS) stage.

Bennett says that the pilot plant design and setup is progressing in line with expectations, and that commissioning will commence in the second quarter of 2023.

Front end design underway (Drilling results confirm stacks at Phalaborwa are homogenous)

Work has started with South Africa’s national, ISO-accredited mineral research organisation Mintek in Johannesburg to design and fabricate the front end of the plant, which will produce a high-value mixed rare earth sulphate.

The required back-end separation process continuous ion-exchange (CIX)/continuous ion chromatography (CIC) units have been delivered to K-Technologies’s Lakeland facility for setup and testing.

Rainbow recently announced an updated JORC compliant Mineral Resource Estimate (MRE) for the project, increasing confidence from the previous Inferred Resource to deliver 24% Measured and 53% Indicated Resource.

“Successful operation of the pilot plant will give further confidence to our plans to leverage our proprietary technology, with the aim of targeting opportunities to produce rare earths from historic phosphogypsum stacks, or as a by-product of phosphoric acid production, on a global scale,” says Bennett.

“The resource upgrade is the result of infill drilling that has confirmed our expectations that the project’s two phosphogypsum stacks are homogenous and consistent in grade.

“The potential for Rainbow to provide an environmentally responsible, near-term source of the magnet minerals critical for global decarbonisation has attracted interest from strategic global investors and discussions with funding partners are progressing well,” Bennett adds.

Additional drilling to upgrade MRE (Drilling results confirm stacks at Phalaborwa are homogenous)

The company has confirmed that the overall size of the MRE is 30.4 Mt, comprising 0.44% total rare earth oxides (TREO).  “High-value magnet rare earths Neodymium (Nd) and Praseodymium (Pr) represent 29% of the TREO in the rare earths basket, with economic quantities of Dysprosium (Dy) and Terbium (Tb), in line with the previous Inferred Resource,” says Bennett.

As part of the DFS, the company will undertake additional drilling to upgrade the MRE further. Rainbow expects that more accurate density measurements below the water table of the gypsum stacks at Phalaborwa will provide an opportunity to increase the total tonnage contained in the resource.

Bennett says that the project remains on track to reach production in 2026 – five years after initial work started on site in 2021.

Drilling results confirm stacks at Phalaborwa are homogenous

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Drilling results confirm stacks at Phalaborwa are homogenous

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