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Burundi suspends rare earths mining operations

The government of Burundi has announced suspension of operations of several international mining companies, including the one that operates Africa’s only rare earths mine in production in western Burundi. Burundian Minister of Water, Energy and Minerals Ibrahim Uwizeye said the move aims to make industry more beneficial to citizens Burundi suspends Africa’s only rare earths mining to make industry more beneficial to citizens.

“Around April this year, I wrote to several mining companies, asking them to stop exportation of minerals. I have now written to them again directing to stop mining. I have invited owners of mining companies to renegotiate new terms that benefit them and the people of Burundi. The companies and the government need to find “a better way forward,” said Mr.Ibrahim Uwizeye.

Equal sharing

The minister also emphasized his government is not targeting any companies or countries, but expects “equal sharing” of Burundi’s wealth. According to the minister’s letter, the affected companies include Guernsey-registered Rainbow Rare Earths, which has 90% of interest in Gakara Rare Earth Project in western Burundi.

Burundi owns 10%, which is non-dilutable. Rainbow was granted a mining license valid for 25 years in 2015, which covers an area of over 39 square km. According to the company, the project has one of the world’s richest rare earth deposits.

The company tweeted in June that its CEO George Bennett will fly to Burundi in early July to discuss operating the project with Burundian President Evariste Ndayishimiye. Other companies which are suspended include gold and coltan companies.

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