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Ionic clay rare earths are Mount Ridley’s key to the big leagues

Special Report: Rare earths are in high demand, so Mount Ridley Mines has plenty of good reason to get excited … Read More
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Rare earths are in high demand, so Mount Ridley Mines has plenty of good reason to get excited after identifying laterally extensive deposits at its namesake project.

A recent re-assay of 950 aircore samples returned significant rare earth element values – including 20 over 1,000 parts per million total rare earth oxides (TREO) – over an apparent strike of more than 25km that remains open in all directions.

While that alone would be enough to get anyone’s interest, it’s the nature of the rare earths mineralisation that might well be of greatest interest.

Quite simply put, Mount Ridley Mines (ASX:MRD) has uncovered what appears to be rare earth elements hosted in ionic adsorption clay (IAC), and that is potentially very exciting indeed.

To put a little context to this, we need to examine what makes IAC deposits tick.

IAC deposits are typically found in southern China and are commonly considered to be some of the cheapest and most readily accessible sources of heavy rare earths, as well as making up a significant percentage of the world’s total output.

For a long time, the only significant deposit outside of China has been Ionic Rare Earth’s (ASX:IXR) Makuutu project in Uganda, which has been responsible for Ionic’s market capitalisation growth since the beginning of this year.

That is until now.

While Mount Ridley’s project is still at an early stage, the results to date already compare favourably to Makuutu and could well represent the opening of a new IAC-hosted rare earths play outside of China and Uganda.

A fortuitous discovery

Here’s the thing – the Mount Ridley project wasn’t originally pegged for its rare earths potential. It was identified for nickel and copper sulphides and the company had started looking for opportunities that would allow it to gain exposure to clean energy and green economy space, company secretary Peter Christie told Stockhead.

As luck would have it, one of the company’s consultants indicated to the company that the project had the hallmarks of hosting rare earths.

“It was a very simple process for us to rerun some samples and the results of those samples which confirmed the presence of significant rare earths,” he noted.

The simple processing required for IAC deposits has drawn investors to companies with such projects as can be seen by recent gains by new listee Australian Rare Earths (ASX:AR3) while Ionic has as previously noted significant upward gains past the $115m mark for market capitalisation.

“The value proposition for Mount Ridley is that if we can demonstrate that we have a lot of tonnes and that it is metallurgically similar to Makuutu, then we will be in a pretty interesting space,” Christie said.

The first goal is not likely to be hard given the presence of strongly mineralised intervals over a 25km strike that’s over 1km wide, which Busing described as being like a river that runs through the company’s tenements.

“Tonnes isn’t going to be the issue, it’s all going to be about efficient metallurgy and that’s where we will be also putting our time,” he added.

“Then we come back to logistics; mining operations live and die by logistics.”

Here’s where the project’s location just 30km from Esperance comes into play.

While the region where the Mt Ridley project sits remains underexplored, its proximity to a major deep-water port means that it is close to infrastructure and amenities.

Cross Section through Winston’s Prospect. Pic: Supplied

Upcoming activity

Looking ahead, the company is waiting for the re-assay results for the remaining 160 samples.

“We have a geochemist who will help us map the profiles, understand what rocks we are in and understand where we are in the clay profile,” Christie noted.

“And then we will also kick off the metallurgy and once we do that, we are going to see which of the elements are going to come out easily and which are harder. Then we can tailor our exploration process accordingly.”

On metallurgy, he noted that the company wanted to see more dysprosium and terbium heavy rare earths and the highly-valued critical rare earths neodymium and praseodymium (NdPr).

“I think we are alright with the NdPr. We were surprised to see how high our Dy and Tb were but we need to do more work on that,” Christie added.

To establish resources, Mount Ridley will carry out aircore drilling along with sonic drilling to establish the ore styles and what the metals are.

“That supplies us with density information and samples for metallurgy, so we will be working to convert what is basically an idea now, initially into an exploration target and then into inferred resources,” he explained.

“We will be drilling out from that strip that we know about up to about a 10km radius around that to give ourselves a global resource.”

Christie added that similarity with Makuutu mineralisation meant that a lot of the pioneering work had already been done for the company.

“It’s going to be a great starting point.”

 


 

 

This article was developed in collaboration with Mount Ridley Mines, a Stockhead advertiser at the time of publishing.

 

This article does not constitute financial product advice. You should consider obtaining independent advice before making any financial decisions.

The post Ionic clay rare earths are Mount Ridley’s key to the big leagues appeared first on Stockhead.

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Drilling kicks off and uranium analysis planned at Benmara battery metals project

Special Report: Resolution Minerals has started drilling at its Benmara battery metals project in the Northern Territory. … Read More
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Resolution Minerals has started drilling at its Benmara battery metals project in the Northern Territory.

The 2,500m RC drilling program is focused on the highest priority targets of 4km and 2km strike length derived from a VTEM survey – and new Geoscience Australia research which identified prospective rock types previously mis-mapped.

The large-scale targets are prospective for sediment hosted battery metals including copper, silver, lead, zinc, and cobalt.

Plus, the targets are on the margin of the South Nicholson Basin and Murphy Inlier on the Fish River fault which is analogous and along strike from Aeon Metal’s (ASX:AML) polymetallic Walford Creek deposits (40 million tonnes at 2% copper equivalent).

It presents the company with strong exposure to the strengthening demand for battery metals – and a tightening market for copper.

And because the targets have no prior drilling, Resolution Minerals (ASX:RML) is confident this underpins the potential to rerate on any discovery made.

 

Fully funded to ramp up exploration

Resolution is fully funded to complete the drilling with existing cash following a recent $1.7 million placement.

“We are very excited to announce drilling has started on our maiden drill program at the under-explored Benmara Battery Metals Project in the Northern Territory,” managing director Duncan Chessell said.

“The program follows up large scale targets derived from our recent VTEM geophysics survey for sediment hosted stratiform copper and other battery metals.

“With virtually no prior drilling conducted into these large-scale targets, we look forward to the results of this exciting opportunity and accelerating exploration.”

The drilling will take three weeks to complete, with assays expected in early November.

Pic: The company holds the Wollogorang and Benmara copper-cobalt-uranium projects in the NT, which includes the Stanton cobalt deposit.

Assessing uranium upside off the back of strong prices

The area surrounding Benmara is also highly prospective for uranium, with the 51.9-million-pound Westmoreland Uranium deposit nearby.

Additional uranium occurrences have also been mapped within 2km of the Benmara tenement boundaries.

And with rising uranium spot prices close to US$50/lb – a nine-year high – it puts the company in a good position to assess the uranium potential of the project.

 

Wollogorang project potential

Then there’s the company’s Wollogorang project in the McArthur Basin in the NT, which is prospective for sedimentary hosted battery metals: copper, cobalt, and hard rock uranium.

There’s proven mineralisation within the Stanton cobalt deposit of 942,000 tonnes at 0.13% cobalt, 0.06% nickel, 0.12% copper.

And a VTEM survey highlighted the sediment hosted copper potential, identifying 40 conductors.

Plus, drill targets at the Gregjo copper prospect are set to test a chargeable IP geophysical anomaly underlying copper mineralisation intersected in shallow RAB drilling of up to 4% copper.

The project is subject to a $5 million farm-in agreement with OZ Minerals (ASX:OZL) to earn 51% interest, after which the company can retain 49% by participating.

Or at Resolution’s election, OZ has the option to earn 75% interest by sole funding to a final positive decision to mine, with Resolution appointed as operator.

 

 

Resolution Minerals share price today:


This article was developed in collaboration with Fresh Equities, a Stockhead advertiser at the time of publishing.

 This article does not constitute financial product advice. You should consider obtaining independent advice before making any financial decisions.

 

The post Drilling kicks off and uranium analysis planned at Benmara battery metals project appeared first on Stockhead.

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Bryah nabs strategic exploration ground around namesake project

Special Report: Bryah Resources has expanded its footprint in WA, securing three exploration licences covering 50 km2 around its existing … Read More
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Bryah Resources has expanded its footprint in WA, securing three exploration licences covering 50 km2 around its existing land holding in the Bryah and Padbury Basins.

The Bryah Basin hosts the high-grade copper-gold mines at DeGrussa, discovered by Sandfire Resources (ASX:SFR) in 2009, and at Horseshoe Lights, which was mined until 1994.

It also hosts several historical and current manganese mines including the company’s Horseshoe South mine.

Bryah Resources’ (ASX:BYH) is confident that the new tenements – E52/3848, E52/3898 and E52/3963 – cover prospective and under-explored areas which have gold, copper-gold and manganese exploration potential.

The tenements were acquired for 4 million ordinary shares at an issue price of $0.055/share.

Tenure right next to historic gold mine

The largest tenement (E52/3898) covers exploration ground adjacent to the historic Wilthorpe shallow open cut gold mine.

The mine straddles the boundary of new tenement E52/3898 and an adjacent E52/2059, held by Westgold Resources (ASX:WGX).

It was mined by Dominion Mining from 1993-94, producing 4,650 ounces of gold from 72,817 tonnes of ore grading 2.0 g/t gold.

And there has been limited gold exploration since.

Based on the reported mineral occurrences, Bryah considers the tenement package highly prospective for copper, gold, and manganese.

Pic: Tenement location plan

Exploration planning underway

The company will shortly commence a thorough desktop review of all historical exploration reports as well as its own extensive database.

The data review will support a detailed phase of exploration planning, ahead of ground exploration activities.

In the meantime, reverse circulation drilling is underway at Bryah’s manganese JV, in a 2000m program fully funded by partner OM Holdings.

 


 

 

This article was developed in collaboration with Bryah Resources, a Stockhead advertiser at the time of publishing.

 

This article does not constitute financial product advice. You should consider obtaining independent advice before making any financial decisions.

 

The post Bryah nabs strategic exploration ground around namesake project appeared first on Stockhead.

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Mining battery metals from the sea floor – could it soon be a low-impact reality?

Low-impact sea mining could become a reality for one ambitious company with the arrival of a 228m ship in Rotterdam … Read More
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Low-impact sea floor mining could finally become a reality for one ambitious company with the arrival of a 228-metre ship in Rotterdam earlier this week, heralding a critical milestone in its plans to become a producer of battery metals sourced from the deep ocean.

Named the Hidden Gem, the vessel is the key to The Metal Company’s (NASDAQ:TMC) vision of developing the world’s largest source of battery metals from the ocean floor with commercial production plans targeted for 2024.

TMC’s strategic partner, Allseas, will be converting a former deep-sea drilling vessel into a subsea mining vessel, retrofitting the ship with equipment to gather polymetallic nodules on the seafloor within contract areas held by TMC in the Pacific Ocean’s Clarion Clipperton Zone (CCZ).

The Hidden Gem. Pic: Business Wire

These potato-sized polymetallic nodules contain high grades of critical minerals such as nickel, manganese, copper and cobalt, which are integral to the manufacturing of electric vehicle batteries and other renewable energy technologies.
 

Enough to power 250 million EVs

Back in April 2020, TMC acquired its third seabed contract area to explore for polymetallic nodules from Tonga Offshore Mining Limited (TOML), which opened it up to a further 74,713km square block of exploration rights.

The third contract area comprises an inferred resource of 756 wet tonnes of polymetallic nodules, meaning its expanded footprint now contains enough nickel, copper, cobalt and manganese to build more than 250 million electric vehicle batteries.

Speaking to the TOML acquisition, TMC’s chairman and CEO Gerard Barron said the project will enable The Metal Company to bring more critical minerals to market to break through the bottleneck and shift away from fossil fuels.

“Our research shows that ocean polymetallic nodules can provide society with these metals at a fraction of the environmental and social impacts associated with land-based extraction.”

Pic: Supplied

 

Environmental concerns about sea floor mining

The environmental concerns which surround mining of the ocean’s floors are well documented, with several jurisdictions and regulatory bodies imposing bans and strict regulations on subsea mining due to the lack of understanding around the environmental impacts and growing fears about the irreversible effects these practices may have on the fragile ecosystems that we know very little about.

Many scientists believe that far more resources have been spent researching ways to mine the ocean floor rather than studying the impact this type of mining might have on the underwater environment.

TMC, however, believes that the Hidden Gem subsea vessel, which will deploy a 4.5km riser to collect the nodules off the seafloor without drilling, blasting or digging, can avoid much of the environmental disturbance associated with traditional sea floor mining methods.
 

Past failures

Planning to mine the oceanic crust’s wealth of mineral resources is a well-trodden path that’s seen many companies fail to deliver on their promises of production due to regulatory and financial hurdles.

Companies such as Nautilius and its high-grade Solwara 1 copper-gold project off the PNG coast is one recent example.

Nautilius had plans to turn its Solwara 1 project into the world’s first underwater copper-gold mining operation but wound up delisting from the TSX and going bankrupt in 2019.

The Canadian company had developed three undersea robots to mine hydrothermal vents on the ocean floor before funding issues became a problem midway through construction.
 

On the road to meeting deep-sea battery metals goal

There are examples of successful mining ventures in the ocean such as in Indonesia’s tin industry, diamond extraction in Namibia, and gold mining off Alaska’s coast, however these ventures are often heavily scrutinised by environmental lobby groups and constantly face the risk of being shut down due to increasing global environmental awareness and a trend towards greener policies from the governments who licence them.

While there is still plenty of obstacles and work to be done, TMC, with the help of Allseas and their new vessel, which is expected to be the first ship classified as a sub-sea mining vessel under American Bureau of Shipping, are much closer than many of their peers to realising the goal of supplying the market with battery metals from the seafloor.

The post Mining battery metals from the sea floor – could it soon be a low-impact reality? appeared first on Stockhead.

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