11/03/2020 - 13:36

Northern builds case for full-scale plant with exploration success

11/03/2020 - 13:36


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Heavy rare earths developer, Northern Minerals has hit more solid heavy rare earths intersections at its Dazzler deposit in WA, with one hole returning 15m grading 2.72 per cent TREO from 20m at its Browns Range Project in the East Kimberley region. The ASX listed company continues to build the case for a full-scale plant with its ongoing success with the drill bit.

Heavy rare earths developer Northern Minerals, continues to build the case for a full-scale plant at its Browns Range heavy rare earths project in WA where the company currently has a pilot plant operating for the purposes of developing the technology necessary to build a full-scale plant.

The Perth-based, ASX listed company has been quietly exploring the near mine areas at Browns Range in parallel with the operations of the pilot plant with a view to building a robust mineral inventory that will see a full-scale plant spoilt for choice of ore long into the future.

The week the company hit some fresh, high-grade drill intersections at its Dazzler deposit, with one returning 15m grading 2.72 per cent Total Rare Earth Oxides from 20m at its Browns Range Project in the East Kimberley region of WA.  

A second drill intersection returned 34m at 1.55 per cent TREO from 25m down hole and a third showed 11m grading 1.55 per cent TREO from only 1m below surface.  Northern said other drill results indicated additional mineralised zones between the Dazzler deposit and the Iceman prospect just to the south of Dazzler.

The company is now building all of the recent exploration drilling results into a new geological model with an updated mineral resource estimate due out later this month.  The current inferred mineral resource at the rapidly developing Dazzler prospect stands at 144,000 tonnes at 2.23 per cent TREO, comprising 3,200,000 kilograms of TREO.

Northern said it has completed a number of geotechnical diamond drill holes to gather metallurgical testing samples and provide pit design data.  The term Total Rare Earth Oxides covers a basket of fifteen different rare earth elements and one in particular, Dysprosium, well represented amongst the rest.

Dysprosium, which is only currently mined in China is utilised in the manufacture of magnets used in commercial scale electric motors, particularly for clean energy generation.

Northern now appears to have several quality deposits on its books with the latest drill out extending the known area of its mineralisation over 10km south from the existing pilot plant.  The Company commenced the production of heavy rare earth carbonate in late 2018 as part of a three- year pilot assessment of the economic and technical feasibility of building a much larger scale development at Browns Range.

Northern currently has an off-take agreement with Thyssenkrupp and is looking to sure up its production profile and trial new initiatives including ore sorting and the separation of the product into individual rare earth oxides with its pilot plant.

Northern Minerals’ Managing Director and CEO, George Bauk said: “The exploration program is an important component of the overall strength of the Browns Range Heavy Rare Earth Project.  As well as assessing the technical and economic feasibility of the larger scale project through production from the pilot plant, the exploration program is important in adding mine-life to the project.”

Northern Minerals has been through the ringer this year with the ATO initially declining its request for an ongoing research and development grant, however, that looks to be back on track now with the Government determining that most of its pilot plant operations do in fact meet the threshold for research and development.

Whilst the final grant is yet to be determined by the ATO, Northern looks to have the wind at its back now, an offtake partner in the bag and an expanding resource with open pit mining potential.

All the necessary boxes are being ticked as it seeks to navigate a pathway towards becoming one of only a handfull of full scale heavy rare earths mining companies around the world – and the only one outside of China.


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


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