Encounter Resources are on a tear today after the Company revealed the early stages of drilling at its Aileron critical minerals project in the West Arunta had picked up niobium and rare earths in mineralised carbonatites stretching for 3.5km along a regional fault structure.

Diamond hole EAL001 at the Hoschke target intersected a niobium-REE mineralised carbonatite which returned an assay result from a 24.8m interval of 16m at 0.6% Nb2O5 and 0.2% TREO (including 402ppm Nd+Pr) from 350m.

But the big encouragement came from two RC pre-collars and diamond holes (EAL007 and EAL008) at the Crean target which stepped out a further 2.0km and 3.5km to the east of EAL001. These two holes contained thicker zones of near surface oxidised and fresh carbonatite that is variably anomalous in niobium and REE via handheld pXRF field analysis.

Assays on these holes have been expedited and are due back in July-August.

The main niobium-bearing mineral identified in the carbonatite is interpreted as coarse grained pyrochlore, which is the predominant mineral mined at the world’s three largest niobium mines as well as at red hot WA1 Resources’ Luni discovery in the West Arunta.

Emerging critical minerals province

In world-class carbonatite hosted mineral systems – such as Araxá in Brazil, Bayan Obo in China and Mt Weld in Western Australia – it is the near surface oxidation and enrichment of the primary material that produces minable grade and size deposits rather than the primary carbonatite itself.

So Encounter is preparing to kick off a three-month RC drill program in August which will pattern drill and test for near surface enriched mineralisation at Hoschke and Crean, as well as several other targets, all within about 10km of each other and along major regional structures.

“The West Arunta continues to emerge as a critical minerals province with the intersection of mineralised carbonatites in three drillholes over a strike length of 3.5km at Aileron,” Encounter Resources (ASX:ENR) MD Will Robinson said.

“The first hole at Aileron, EAL001, was targeting a high amplitude magnetic anomaly, which it successfully intersected, before also intersecting a niobium-REE bearing primary carbonatite dyke.

“We were able to get structural measurements from the dyke to confirm it was striking east-west so two additional holes were drilled along the Elephant Island Fault to the east at Crean.

“Both holes contain zones of shallow oxidised and fresh carbonatite that returned anomalous niobium-REE on a handheld pXRF and the carbonatite units appear to be increasing in width to the east.” 

Drilling results to flow throughout H2 2023

With only one assay returned from part ofHoschke, assays results for the four RC pre-collars and diamond holes drilled at Crean and one hole Caird remain outstanding.

And only 25m of the Hoschke hole was sent for priority assay, meaning the remainder of the hole is outstanding, including a 180m interval of hydrothermal magnetite with potential for others forms of mineralisation that was intersected from 150m depth.

A heritage survey is commencing at Aileron in early July 2023 to support the large RC drill program.




This article was developed in collaboration with Encounter Resources Limited, 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.