Defense Metals (TSX:DEFN, OTCQB:DFMTF, FWB:35D) is following up on strong drill results with initial flotation work returning some of the best results from amongst rare earth elements projects.

The work on a master composite sample containing material from all three of the main REE bearing lithologies present at its Wicheeda deposit in British Columbia, Canada, achieved recovery rates in excess of 80% with mineralisation reporting into an exquisitely high-grade concentrate grading more than 40% total rare earth oxides (TREO).

Similar performance was reported from a dolomite carbonatite sample. Both the dolomite carbonatite (the dominant lithology at Wicheeda) and the master composite had a head grade of more than 2% TREO.

This is encouraging for Defense Metals as it expects this material to make up over 90% of the floatation plant feed during the first eight years of the mine’s life.

Meanwhile, testing of a sample with a head grade of 1.4% TREO from the xenolithic carbonatite, which represents about 24% of the deposit, produced a 38% TREO concentrate with about 70% recovery.

Syenite material – which makes up just 3% of the deposit – returned the lowest grade concentrate of 14.6% with recovery rates of about 79% though this also achieved the highest upgrade ratio of 14X from a 1.1% head grade.

“Flotation results from the on-going program of testwork at SGS Lakefield confirm the basis of the Preliminary Economic Assessment (PEA) and show that the Wicheeda deposit can produce a high-grade rare earths mineral concentrate at high recovery rates with conventional flotation from a range of lithologies and grades,” chief executive officer Craig Taylor said.

“These are some of the best flotation results among rare earths development projects.

“We are encouraged with the exploration and metallurgy results to date, and confident that the pre-feasibility study, which we anticipate will commence shortly, will show that Wicheeda is well positioned to become one of the next rare earths producers in North America.”

To date, the company has carried out about 70 flotation tests and is carrying out additional tests on variability samples of all three lithologies as well as mixed samples. Several assays from drilling are also pending.

Drilling pointing to resource upgrade

The heady flotation results come as infill drilling continues to build a strong case for a resource upgrade.

Recent results have proved the continuity of mineralisation at Wicheeda, which 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.

The 4,244 hectare project about 80km northeast of the city of Prince George in British Columbia, Canada, also benefits from accessibility by all-weather gravel roads and proximity to infrastructure such as power transmission lines, the CN railway, and major highways.

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.