14/10/2021 - 13:25

ABx hits highest grade Tasmanian rare earths to date

14/10/2021 - 13:25

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Recent assay results from ABx Group’s Deep Leads rare earth element discovery in northern Tasmania have proven the mineralisation extends over an area greater than 3km. Importantly, results from one hole set a record with the highest grade of total rare earth elements from Deep Leads, returning a whopping 3,306 parts per million TREO. The company has just commenced an extension drill program.

Drilling the eastern flank of ABx Group’s Deep Leads REE discovery in Tasmania.

Recent assay results from ABx Group’s Deep Leads rare earth element, or “REE” discovery in northern Tasmania have proven the mineralisation extends over an area greater than 3 kilometres. Importantly, results from one hole set a record with the highest grade of total REE elements from Deep Leads, returning a whopping 3,306 parts per million Total Rare Earth Oxides, or “TREO”.

The rare earths mineralisation is a fortuitous and unexpected value-add to ABx’s Tasmanian bauxite project. Originally, the DL130 deposit was considered principally a bauxite project, however earlier this year the company announced it had encountered REE’s enrichment in a widespread rock unit at the DL130 project.

The rare earth mineralisation is now mapped over an area greater than the bauxite deposit.

Importantly, results from hole DL187 also set a record with the highest grade of TREO from Deep Leads, returning a whopping 3,306 parts per million TREO. It also extends of the areal extent of the Deep Leads REE discovery with this drill hole 870 metres further south than previous mineralised holes. There is also evidence the grades of REE increase away from the bauxite.  

ABx Group has just this week commenced a new drill campaign to test for extensions of the Deep Leads mineralisation to the northwest, northeast and south. Additionally, drilling will also target host rock settings that are not covered by the bauxite layer, as well as deeper REE mineralisation beneath the bauxite at 10 to 20m depth. Previously the area was tested only by very shallow holes drilled for bauxite across the DL130 deposit. Drillholes up to 25m deep are required to reach the hard igneous bedrock to ensure the entire REE mineralised clay and altered bedrock horizon is sampled.

Interestingly, the deposit is covered by hardwood plantation, however fortuitous recent harvesting of the hardwood plantation trees has allowed for rapid drill coverage. The equipment used for drilling has been specifically designed to fit between the plantation hardwood trees. The company says drilling is conducted in accordance with ABx’s strict policy to apply best practices on agricultural land and to leave land and environment in a better state than before. 

ABx’s REE mineralisation is highly enriched in the super-magnetic REE’s neodymium, praseodymium, terbium, and dysprosium which are strategically important, high priced, metals needed for electric vehicles, wind turbines, smart phones and military electronics.

To add significant value to the project, ABx believes it has discovered “water-soluble” ionic adsorption clay REE resources which can be concentrated into a saleable precipitate by low-cost leaching with simple dilute water-based solutions. The company says recoveries are increased further with enhanced reaction times and the addition of ammonium sulphate.

Importantly, the heavy rare earth elements are enriched in the final precipitate and deleterious elements are depleted and only very low radioactive elements remain in the concentrate. ABx says the results are consistent with “ionic adsorption clay” type of rare earth mineralisation, which makes it one of only three publicly listed discoverers of these types of easily processed deposits.

The company says a commercially attractive concentrate may be achieved from the company’s rare earth element mineralisation which would make the predominantly bauxite project even more economically viable. 

The REE are relatively free of the radioactive elements which means a simple bulk rare earth concentrate can likely be produced and sold to existing processing plant operators.

ABx Operations Manager, Nathan Towns said; “The current drilling campaign could not have commenced without the assistance of landholders, including Forico. We appreciate their support and we will not let them down. Conducting exploration during a pandemic and a mineral boom is challenging but ABx has managed to press ahead despite the Covid-19 restrictions. We eagerly await the imminent granting of our large new Exploration License covering several attractive REE targets that exist east of our current Deep Leads discovery.

Currently there are only five producing heavy rare earths mines in the world and they are all in China. ASX-listed Northern Minerals’ pilot plant in northern Western Australia is also capable of producing heavies such as dysprosium which is a key rare earth element for electric engines.

ABx is now conducting further metallurgical tests on bulk samples to confirm the deposit type and will continue assembling results to design a low-cost concentration method for its particular type of rare earths mineralisation.

Prices for the four super-magnet heavy rare earths are still rising strongly and have more than doubled in the last twelve months which makes this style of mineralisation where the rare earth elements are loosely ionically bound to clay minerals quite advantageous as they can be developed, processed and sold rapidly.  

ABx CEO, Ian Levy said; “Prices for the four super-magnet REE are still rising strongly. ABx is targeting the IAC type of REE mineralisation that can be developed fastest to give ABx shareholders an opportunity to capture some of the value from this bull market situation”. 

 

Is your ASX-listed company doing something interesting? Contact: matt.birney@businessnews.com.au

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