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EXCLUSIVE: Burundi wants new Rainbow Rare Earths mining convention

By David Whitehouse
Posted on Monday, 23 August 2021 11:12

Burundian President Évariste Ndayishimiye during a speech to media representatives, January 28, 2021. © DR / Burundian Presidency.

Burundi has halted the Rainbow Rare Earths mining operation at Gakara because it wants to renegotiate its mining convention with the company, CEO George Bennett tells The Africa Report.

In April, Burundi’s government suspended the export of rare earths produced from trial mining and processing at Gakara. “They have stopped us in contravention of the mining conventions and Burundi law,” Bennett says

Bennett in early July met with President Evariste Ndayishimiye in an attempt to resolve the dispute. The president, Bennett says, was “surprised” that operations had been suspended. Ndayishimiye wanted exports resumed as soon as possible, Bennett says.

An advisor to the government is now claiming that deposits at the Gakara site south of the capital Bujumbura have a total rare earth oxides (TREO) ratio of around 80%, which Bennett says is impossible. He says the ratio is around 54% to 56%, adding that the world’s highest TREO level, found in the US, is around 58% to 60%.