Just a month since discovering rare earths at the Innouendy project, Desert Metals has already found that recovery of valuable elements from the clay material is going to be easily achieved.

Weak acid digest analysis found excellent rare earth element recoveries of more than 80% from the high-grade zones intersected rather unexpectedly by the company during its search for nickel-copper-PGE intrusives.

This is good news for Desert Metals (ASX:DM1) as it indicates that the REE’s at the project are potentially economic as the ease of extraction via a simple leach means lower capex for any development.

Clay-hosted REEs, which makes up the vast majority of REEs produced in the world, have been getting more attention elsewhere in the world following a spate of discoveries.

The company has now re-submitted 95 adjacent samples for a full suite of REE analysis to help establish the full thickness of each intercept downhole as well as continuity of mineralisation between holes.

Once these results have been received, all significant intercepts will also be analysed by weak acid digest to confirm leachable recoveries.

Given the results to date, the company has engaged the services of REE expert Dr John Mair who has taken a complex REE project from discovery through various feasibility studies to development ready status.

“We are delighted to have secured the services of John, whose experience, expertise and extensive network of technical and commercial contacts in the REE space will be invaluable as we seek to rapidly move this project forward,” managing director Rob Stuart says.

The company plans to start an extensive aircore drilling program in mid-July to test the extent of the shallow, clay hosted REE mineralisation.

This will have sufficiently close hole spacings to allow, if consistent grades and widths are intercepted, for the company to work towards defining an Inferred resource.

Dingo Pass exploration

Desert Metals has also completed a seven hole reverse circulation drill program at its Dingo Pass project, which did not intersect sufficient quantities of sulphides to explain the conductors present in the area.

Downhole electromagnetics will now be used to more precisely define the conductors’ location and guide follow-up drilling.

However, several holes – particularly at the Dome and Komatiite prospects – did intersect mafic intrusions with traces of disseminated copper and nickel-bearing sulphides, providing encouragement that the conductors may be nickel-copper sulphides.

The company believes the targeted host intrusions have been deformed and metamorphosed, which is the case in other nickel provinces such as the Thomson Belt in Manitoba, Canada, where the sulphides are often reworked into fold hinges and other structurally complex positions.

This makes their associated conductance difficult to model and would explain the relative lack of success in intersecting the targeted conductors on the first pass.

“Until we intersect mineralisation that explains these very conductive anomalies the Dingo Pass prospects remain very much alive,” Stuart says.

“While we would have liked to have hit extensive massive nickel-copper mineralisation with the first drill phase, to not do so is not unusual. The downhole EM will help to pinpoint targets for our next phase of drilling.”




This article was developed in collaboration with Desert 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.