• Stage 2 drilling for REEs and heavy minerals poised to start following planning completion
  • Part of broader campaign to cover entire radiometric anomaly at Sandy Mitchell
  • First detailed 1m assays from Stage 1 drilling due soon


Ark has completed planning for Stage 2 of a four-stage drill campaign aimed at covering the full radiometric anomaly at its unique Sandy Mitchell REE and heavy mineral project in northern Queensland.

Sandy Mitchell is unique compared to other REE deposits, as the materials are hosted in fine sands known as terrestrial placer deposits, which are amenable to simple panning into a concentrate.

Ark Mines (ASX:AHK) says this could result in a potentially fast-start up beneficiation gravity processing model that will have lower processing costs than both hard rock and ionic clay-hosted REE deposits.

Since acquiring the project in March this year, exploration at the project has already resulted in panned concentrates returning high-grades of up to 18.4% total rare earth oxides (TREO), with neodymium and praseodymium (NdPr) making up 25% of the TREO content.

NdPr is well known for its use in the fabrication of permanent magnets that are used in electric vehicle motors and wind turbines.

With China, which is currently responsible for about 90% of the world’s NdPr output, looking to reduce exports in order to feed its domestic markets, explorer such as Ark have a tremendous opportunity to fill in the expected global shortfall.


Stage 2 program to extend mineralisation

The first batch of 1m interval assays for the 144 hole, 1,505m Stage 1 drill program returned REE and heavy mineral mineralisation in every hole.

Results from this program, which only covered 1.2% of the peak radiometric reading on the lease, are mid-September.

The Stage 2 program will use a specialised truck mounted auger rig to add another 141 holes totalling 1,480.5m to extend this known mineralisation.

The rig has a new safety system and upgraded sampling system designed specifically for sands, expected to lower drill costs while improving the quality of sampling.

Additionally, the company has taken receipt of a state-of-the-art Scintillometer, which will complement the forthcoming auger drill program by facilitating immediate analysis of results on site.

Ark Mines has also completed aerial reconnaissance over the entire project whilst specialist consultant Mineral Technologies advances metallurgical testing to characterise the REEs and heavy minerals identified within the sands at Sandy Mitchell.


“Significant exploration upside”

“We are pleased with the latest developments at Sandy Mitchell, which are the result of focused execution by the board and management team to fast-track key works programs and advance exploration in order to unlock the inherent value we believe the project holds,” executive director Ben Emery said.

“With preparations for the augur drill program now complete, the initiation of the Stage 2 drill program will add valuable insights about the broader scope of the project.

“Given that the Stage 1 program covered just 1.2% of the peak radiometric reading on the lease, we think there is significant exploration upside still remaining and have planned the forward works program (Stage 2 to Stage 4) to ultimately cover the full anomaly.”


Forward program

Besides the upcoming start of Stage 2 drilling, the first batch of 1m interval assays for the 144-hole Stage 1 drill program are due in mid-September.

Ark also expects to receive initial results from the metallurgical testing in the fourth quarter of this year.

Plans for Stage 3 and Stage 4 drill programs have also been finalised.

Stage 3 will see the drilling of a further 143 holes while Stage 4 will cover the remaining parts of the anomaly with 134 holes.



This article was developed in collaboration with Ark 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.