MoneyTalks is Stockhead’s regular drill down into what stocks investors are looking at right now. We’ll tap our extensive list of experts to hear what’s hot, their top picks, and what they’re looking out for.

Today we hear from Argonaut senior metals and mining analyst George Ross.


Prices for a range of rare earths recently hit their lowest point since 2020, thanks to soft downstream demand and China’s dominant influence on pricing.

Ross says the rare earths market “is the most manipulated commodity market out there”.

“The Chinese keep a stranglehold on the supply chain,” he says.

“But my view is we are seeing more and more non-Chinese production in all metals, particularly in the energy metals space.”

The key driver going forward is this ‘bifurcation’ of supply chains in the rare earth market, Ross says.

“We need a build out of rare earths refining capability outside of China, and magnet production to go into EVs as well,” he says.

“We need that downstream buildout to then support more production. That will hopefully be a driver of higher prices in the market.”

Long term demand is still expected to grow strongly from 260-280,000tpa REO in 2022 to 340-370,000tpa in 2027.

Of that, magnet rare earths are the major growth driver.

But at times of low prices, like now, there are very few development projects out there which would make decent profit, Ross says.

“There are a lot of resources out there. There won’t be room to develop all of them, to be honest; just the best ones,” he says.

“It’s like any commodity – you have to be among the lowest cost producers.”

Here are four world-class projects Ross says are well-placed ride the cycles.


George’s Top ASX Rare Earths Picks


MEI is up a dizzying +1000% since inking a deal in December to buy a ‘Tier 1’ ionic clay rare earth project called Caldeira in Brazil.

In May, it announced a maiden 409Mt resource grading 2626ppm (at 1000ppm cutoff), making it the world’s highest grade ionic adsorption deposit.

Magnet rare earths grades are 631ppm, comprising 24% of the TREO basket.

Scoping/Prefeasibility studies are planned to commence in Q4 2023.

Sprott has a 50c price target on the stock for a market cap of more than $1 billion on a fully diluted basis.

“It is our pick for best rare earth project globally,’’ it says.



The former bauxite explorer rerated heavily last year after winning a protracted 2018 dispute for Kangankunde, one of the world’s largest hard rock REE projects outside China.

Earlier this month it released a maiden resource of 261Mt at a high grade of 2.19% TREO, for 5.7Mt contained rare earths.

This includes multiple higher-grade subsets, including 23Mt @ 3.23% TREO which is the focus for the initial Stage 1 mine development.

The focus now turns to locking in offtake agreements and advancing construction of the stage 1 plant to deliver first product in 2024.



On Wednesday, PEK announced a binding offtake deal with a subsidiary of major US$3.1bn-capped Chinese rare earths company Shenghe Resources.

They will also help with a “development and funding solution”.

Shenghe, which owns 19.8% of PEK, is the largest importer of rare earth concentrate into China and its operations span rare earth mining, beneficiation, refining, trading and alloy and metals production.

PEK’s Ngualla project (214Mt at 4.8% TREO) in Tanzania is also one of the largest and highest grade undeveloped rare earth deposits in the world, PEK says.

A BFS update envisaged a 16,200tpa REO concentrate operation with an initial lifespan of 24 years. Post tax NPV and IRR attributable to PEK have been calculated at US$1,483m and 37.3%, respectively.

It would cost US$321m to build.

PEK is aiming for a final investment decision this year, ahead of first production mid 2025.



Sand miner ILU announced a $78 million strategic investment in peer NTU which could see it snap up the initial eight years of production from NTU’s Browns Range project as third-party dysprosium and terbium feed for its Eneabba Refinery.

Browns Range has the highest-grade dysprosium and terbium orebody globally, essential for high-performance permanent magnets.

A DFS is due in Q3, 2023, with the mine expected to be operational in 2026.

“Mixing Eneabba’s light rare earth abundance with Northern Mineral’s heavy rare earths puts together the perfect mix for what you need for EV magnets,” Ross says.

Argonaut recommend a Speculative Buy and value NTU at $0.064 per share – 88% upside on the current price.