Against a backdrop of increasing prices and market appetite for rare earth elements, Australian Bauxite is looking to build on a recent discovery of rare earth elements accumulations within its DL130 bauxite project in Tasmania. The company says the discovery appears to increase in grade in an arc from west to north-east with the latest hole drilled in the arc yielding an eye-catching grade of 301ppm neodymium oxide.
Against a backdrop of buoyant prices and market demand for rare earth elements, ASX-listed Australian Bauxite is hoping to build on the rare earth elements accumulations it has discovered within its DL130 bauxite tenement holdings in north-east Tasmania. The Sydney-based company says the rare earth elements discovery appears to increase in grade in an arc from west to north-east, with the most recent hole drilled in the arc tipping the scales at an eye-catching grade of 301 parts per million neodymium oxide from just 9m depth.
The high-grade hit was returned from the north-east section of the arc and Australian Bauxite says that as a result of this work the target channel area has been expanded from 500m to 700m wide. Mineralisation remains open in all directions.
Australian Bauxite encountered a channel of elevated rare earth elements values in the west of the DL130 bauxite deposit and subsequent exploration results indicate the channel forms an arc and may be an ancient water channel.
A large drill sampling program showed rare earth elements grades increasing in a north-easterly direction and further assays from the latest sampling program that revealed the rising grade trend in a north-easterly direction are pending.
The $20 million market-capped company has since identified a nearby extensive area of what it describes as similar potential accumulations of water soluble rare earth elements referred to as the “target two” prospect.
Prices and demand for strategic minerals have been rising steadily due to a supply shortage and the rapidly growing rare earth elements volumes required for super magnets used in applications such as electric vehicles, wind turbines, smart phones and military electronics to name just a few.
Australian Bauxite says the rare earth elements accumulations at DL130 are enriched with neodymium and praseodymium, which along with terbium and dysprosium are the main rare earth elements components of super magnets.
The company is looking to wrap an economic resource around an ionic adsorption clay-type or water soluble rare earth elements deposit that can be developed as a potentially low-cost, in-situ leaching operation.
An in-situ leaching operation sees holes drilled in a grid pattern with a central hole selected as the production well.
Leach water is pumped down the surrounding drill holes to leach rare earth elements from the ore horizon and the rare earth elements-bearing water is extracted from the production well.
It is then passed through a settling tank to recover a concentrate of rare earth elements metal oxides that can be sold to large production plants.
Australian Bauxite says it is one of only three publicly listed companies in the world targeting ionic adsorption clay-type or water soluble rare earth elements deposits.
Management says rare earth elements accumulations in northern Tasmania are relatively free of the radioactive elements uranium and thorium, which means that a simple bulk rare earth concentrate can be produced and sold to existing processing plant operators.
With prices for the super magnet elements of neodymium and praseodymium having surged over the past year to more than US$100,000 per tonne, rare earth elements market watchers will no doubt be keeping a close eye on Australian Bauxite’s progress at DL130 as it runs the ruler over just what it means to also have rare earth elements lurking amongst its bauxite deposit.
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