Aspiring ASX-listed heavy rare earths developer Northern Minerals, has delivered on its pre-Christmas plan with 8,500m of RC drilling at its Browns Range project in WA’s East Kimberley region. The results produced some solid hits including 9m at 0.54 per cent TREO from 53m downhole and 11m at 0.37 per cent TREO from 52m in two separate holes at its greenfield Toad prospect.
Aspiring ASX-listed heavy rare earths developer, Northern Minerals, has delivered on its pre-Christmas plan with 8,500m of a planned 16,500m RC drilling at its Browns Range heavy rare earths project in WA’s East Kimberley region, adjacent to the border with the Northern Territory.
As a part of a $5m exploration program to be completed by the end of June this year, the company’s first batch of assays have thrown up some solid hits including 9m at 0.54 per cent Total Rare Earth Oxide, or “TREO” from 53m downhole and 11m at 0.37 per cent TREO from 52m in two separate holes at its greenfield Toad prospect.
What is particularly impressive about the new kid on the block, Toad, was the presence of multiple widths in the two richest drill holes. The drill hole with 11m at 0.37 per cent TREO from 52m downhole also hit 12m at 0.3 per cent TREO from a deeper 62m, and separately, 2m at 0.17 per cent TREO from a shallow 15m downhole.
Northern Minerals Chief Executive Officer, Mark Tory said:“We are very pleased to have exceeded our target of getting at least 8,000 metres of drilling completed before Christmas as well as post some very encouraging early results.
“Following up on these results will be one component of the second phase of our exploration drilling campaign, which we will be back on the ground to complete before the end of June.”
“The relatively shallow depth as well as the grade and widths of some of these intersections give us plenty to work with, however much of the drilling in the first half of 2021 will be at new greenfields targets.”
“Our overall strategy remains to increase the Mineral Resource and the life-of-mine potential at Browns Range to more than 20 years. This will feed into a future feasibility study for a potential commercial scale heavy rare earths operation at Browns Range.”
Northern has planned a total of 116 RC drill holes across its bevy of existing prospects including, Dazzler, Dazzler North and Northwest, Ripcord, Gambit and Wolverine West, plus its newest entry, Toad. Notably, all prospects are within a short drive of the pilot plant at Browns Range.
Solid drill intercepts were returned from around one third of the drill holes assayed so far, with widths of TREO’s recorded at Toad, Gambit West Dazzler North and Dazzler Northwest.
Northern said an initial hit at Dazzler North of 3m at 0.74 per cent TREO from only 8m downhole was very positive as it was the richest grade assayed so far and the same RC drill hole also hit another 4m at 0.32 per cent TREO from 42m downhole.
The ASX-listed heavy rare earths player has also been busy working on a post-COVID refresh of its pilot plant by adding a $5.9 million ore sorter at the front end of the project’s pilot plant. Northern is hoping to create a low-cost method of potentially doubling the ore feed grade.
Research and development test work resumed at the $70 million Browns Range pilot plant in August after Commonwealth biosecurity restrictions emanating from the COVID-19 response culminated in a five-month care and maintenance period.
Northern Minerals said the exploration drilling results, plus its beneficiation and metallurgical test work, will all go into the mix with its three-year pilot-level studies to hone the economic and technical feasibility of a commercial, larger-scale development at Browns Range.
Northern Minerals hopes to become a key producer of the heavy rare earth element dysprosium, and operator of the only heavy rare earths mine outside of the dominant supply force of China.
As part of the three-year pilot assessment of a possible large-scale development at Browns Range that began a couple of years ago, the company has been producing a mixed heavy rare earth carbonate, the precursor product to downstream separation processing.
Dysprosium is an essential ingredient in the production of dysprosium neodymium-iron-boron magnets found in clean energy, military and high-tech applications.
The progress at Browns Range has seen Northern Minerals’ share price enjoy a solid start to the new year, closing at 4.2c on Monday up 16.5 per cent for the month.
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