American West Metals’ West Desert now hosts the only indium resource in the US
Special Report: American West Metals’ West Desert project in Utah has received a major boost after the company defined a world-class 23.8Moz indium resource – the only indium resource in the US – on top of existing zinc, copper and silver mineralisation.
West Desert is a large, coherent orebody within the Seiver Orogenic Belt that also hosts the giant Bingham Canyon copper mine.
Historical exploration has already established that a large porphyry related, zinc-polymetallic skarn and carbonate replacement deposit is present.
American West Metals (ASX:AW1) defined a resource of 33.7Mt grading 3.83% zinc, 0.15% copper and 9 grams per tonne (g/t) silver, or a contained resource of 1.3Mt of zinc, 49,000t of copper and 10Moz of silver, at West Desert in February 2023.
About 81% is contained within the higher confidence “indicated” category that has sufficient information on geology and grade continuity to support mine planning.
The resource is further broken into two parts – an 18.7Mt portion grading 2.8% zinc, 0.12% copper and 11g/t silver contained within the open pit opportunity and a higher grade underground component of 15Mt at 5.2% zinc, 0.18% copper and 7g/t gold in close proximity to the open pit.
What it didn’t include at this point was the indium and gold contained in the deposit due to data gaps in historical drilling.
Indium stands tall as a crucial mineral in the US, powering touchscreens, flat-screen TVs, solar panels, and nuclear reactor control rods.
AW1 has now defined an indium and gold resource of 33.7Mt at 20g/t indium and 0.1g/t gold that consists of 18.7Mt at 13gt indium and 0.09g/t gold within the open pit and 15Mt at 28.7g/t indium and 0.12g/t gold in the higher-grade underground resource.
Not only does this add to the existing resources, it also represents the only indium resource in the US, while ranking amongst the largest and highest grade indium deposits globally.
Plan view of the West Desert deposit. Pic supplied by AW1
Adding further interest, the company identified considerable potential to expand the West Desert resource, also noting the new high-grade ‘Copper Zone’ – where drilling had returned assays such as 17.22m at 1.04% copper, 0.58g/t gold and 12.46g/t indium – has not been included in the resource and remains open along strike and at depth.
Further discoveries include high-grade indium-zinc-copper intersections topping up at 4.58m at 5.21% zinc, 0.46% copper, 0.6g/t gold, 18.68g/t silver, 88.05g/t indium from 455.65m to the west of the current resource.
Just 10% of the known porphyry contact has been explored with drilling to date, leaving plenty of room for more resources to be unlocked.
“We are pleased to announce an updated JORC compliant mineral resource estimate (MRE) for the West Desert deposit,”AW1 managing director Dave O’Neill said.
“Significantly, the updated MRE adds a world class indium resource to the existing large volumes of zinc, copper and silver that were defined within the maiden resource announced in February this year.
“Indium and gold were omitted in the maiden MRE for West Desert due to data gaps in the historical drilling, but further studies allow us to now add these two highly valuable metals as inferred resources.
“West Desert is currently the only indium resource in the US and is one of the largest undeveloped deposits of the metal globally. As the geopolitical alignment of supply chains in the resources sector emerges as an important issue in the US, the updated MRE highlights the unique characteristics of West Desert and its importance to the supply of critical and strategic metals.
“West Desert is well located for future development receiving strong support from the local and federal government. The large resources and exciting growth opportunities at West Desert demonstrate the outstanding value of the project.”
Leaching test work is continuing on oxide zinc and copper ores from the proposed open pit at West Desert.
The test work includes new leaching technologies and processes aimed at optimising and building on the successful test work completed to date.
Separately, AW1 is completing estimation and final reporting for the maiden resource estimate for its StormCopper Project in Nunavut, Canada, which is expected to be released early, in 2024.
Ore sorting, beneficiation and process optimisation studies on a range of ore types from Storm is also continuing.
Over at Utah’s Copper Warrior Project, the company eagerly await the assay results from their latest exploration drilling.
This article was developed in collaboration with American West Metals, 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.