Defense Metals (TSX:DEFN, OTCQB:DFMTF, FWB:35D) is poised to upgrade resources at its Wicheeda rare earth elements deposits after initial results from its 2022 drill program returned thick intercepts of mineralisation.

Results from the first and third holes from the ongoing resource infill and exploration diamond drill program are 192m grading 1.78% total rare earth oxides (TREO) including 73m at 3.13% TREO from a down-hole depth of 77m (WI22-64) and 167m at 1.39% TREO from 93m including 48m at 2.29% TREO from 121m (WI22-62).

Adding further interest for the Vancouver-based mineral exploration and development company, assays are still pending for the remaining 101m from a depth of 284m to the end of hole in WI22-64.

To date, 15 drill holes totalling 4,800m have been completed of the planned 18-hole program totalling 5,000m.

“These initial results compare very favourably to our PEA mineral resource cut-off of 0.5% TREO and continue to demonstrate continuity of mineralisation over significant widths,” director Kristopher Raffle said.

We expect additional results in the coming days, weeks, and months ahead.

“With the 2022 drill campaign now 96% complete, we look forward to finishing a small number of remaining pit slope geotechnical and hydrogeological holes designed to inform any Preliminary Feasibility Studies.”

Wicheeda currently has a CIM Definition Standards Indicated Resource of 5Mt grading 2.95% TREO and an Inferred Resource of 29.5Mt at 1.83% TREO.

Robust REE project

Wicheeda covers 4,244ha of ground about 80km northeast of the city of Prince George in British Columbia, Canada, and is accessible by all-weather gravel roads while having nearby infrastructure such as power transmission lines, the CN railway, and major highways.

It is the subject of a 2021 preliminary economic assessment technical report (PEA) which returned robust numbers such as after-tax net present value and internal rate of return – both measures of a project’s profitability – of C$517m and 18% respectively.

The PEA envisions a 1.8Mtpa mill throughput open pit mining operation with a low 1.75:1 (waste:mill feed) strip ratio mine that will produce 25,423t of rare earth oxides annually for 19 years.

Additionally, an initial Phase 1 pit with a strip ratio of just 0.63:1 would provide rapid access to higher grade surface mineralisation in the first year and pay back the initial C$440m capital within five years.

This article was developed in collaboration with Defense 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.