While a pending maiden resource upgrade will provide a clearer picture of just how significant Godolphin’s Narraburra project will be, the indication that its rare earths are hosted in ionic clays is equally significant.

This is because while clay-hosted rare earths, which until recently were found mostly in Southern China and Myanmar, can potentially be processed more easily than their hard rock counterparts, it is contingent on being the right kind of clays – namely ionic clays.

And while independent laboratory Australian Nuclear Science and Technology Organisation’s (ANSTO) verification that Narraburra mineralisation has an ionic component represents a tick in the right check box for Godolphin Resources (ASX:GRL), the highly encouraging recoveries from initial leach testing is another point in its favour.

Not only did the testing return 92% recovery of valuable magnet REEs, which confirms the potential for Narraburra to enjoy low cost development, the first results also demonstrate higher extraction rates for heavier REEs over lighter REEs.

The testwork also found that extraction percentages increase with time and temperature, with a significant increase in REE recovery at 50 degrees Celsius reported for clay-rich samples.

“We are extremely pleased with the initial leach testing results from ANSTO, which highlight exceptional recoveries of the Narraburra Project’s key magnet rare earth elements and confirms Narraburra’s potential,” Managing Director Jeneta Owens said.

“These first results also indicate Narraburra as an Ionic clay-hosted source of rare earths, which are very amenable to relatively low cost processing, as opposed to hard rock sources, which require substantially more complex, and expensive, processing methods.

This will play very well for Godolphin, particularly as discussions commence with offtake partners and potential project partners.

These preliminary results, received earlier than scheduled, will inform the pending upgrade of the Narraburra Mineral Resource to JORC 2012 and will be utilised for a larger, project-scale metallurgical and a bulk sampling program to determine the ideal extraction pathway for Narraburra.”

Narraburra metallurgical testwork

The metallurgical testing was carried out on six samples collected from across the Narraburra Project area to represent the different potential lithological hosts of the REE mineralisation and to determine if there is the potential for adsorbed REE’s on clay mineral.

Samples tested at 50 degrees Celsius returned significantly higher recoveries than those tested at ambient temperature, with one sample – GNBMET0002 – having a head grade of 1,387 parts per million total rare earth oxides recording a greater than 100% improvement.

Quantitative mineralogical data on the six samples is expected to be received from ANSTO this month, which should enable Godolphin to identify the components of the various materials in the deposit and refine its understanding of which materials to be targeted for further bench scale work.

The preliminary results will also be used to inform a larger project scale metallurgical testing and bulk sampling program, to determine the ideal extraction processing options for Narraburra and develop processing pathways.

Additional testing will be carried out over the coming months, to identify the optimal range of pH levels, temperature and residence timing to determine, refine and improve the metallurgical process.

This article was developed in collaboration with Godolphin Resources, 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.