In the Shadow of the Mountain: Locksley on a quest for rare earths next to the USA’s only producing mine
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Locksley Resources has high hopes for its freshly acquired Mojave rare earth elements (REE) project in California, which conveniently sits right next to the United States’ only operating REE mine, Mountain Pass.
Producing since 1952, the Mountain Pass mine was the world’s biggest source of rare-earth elements until China started dominating the commodity’s global production in the late 1990s.
Mountain pass has a very high average grade of more than 8% TREO (that’s 80,000ppm) and accounts for around 15% of the world’s supply of rare earths.
The ore also includes a high proportion of high-value magnet rare earths, like neodymium and praseodymium (NdPr) which are in high demand for their use in electric vehicles and wind turbines.
It’s why, with China continuing to dominate the REE trade, Western nations like the US are working hard to secure domestic supply.
In the shadow of Mountain Pass is Locksley Resources (ASX:LKY) and its Mojave project, where exploration manager David Ward is confident there’s more discoveries to be made.
“The project is right beside the only operating rare earth mine in the United States, Mountain Pass,” Ward told Stockhead.
“There are three big REE mines; one in Australia called Mount Weld, a big one in China, and Mountain Pass in the US which is one of the highest-grade rare-earth mines in the world and the only producing mine in the country.
“So, often explorers find deposits in the shadow of the headframe. That’s why we’re there.”
The company picked up 201 mineral claims making up the North Block and South Block of the Mojave project in the Mojave Desert, along with an additional five mineral claims making up the El Campo prospect area.
Exploration at the project is off to a positive start, with mapping and sampling in the September quarter returning 12.1% (122,338 ppm) Total Rare-Earth Oxide (TREO) rock chips from the El Campo prospect.
“That’s exceptionally high grade for rare earths, and that sample itself returned 3.19% NdPr,” Ward said.
“They’re the critical magnet rare earths that everyone wants and are really high value.”
Applications for drilling have now been lodged with the Bureau of Land Management (BLM) to undertake 5-6 holes to follow-up the high-grade TREOs at the El Campo lode.
The company also completed a stream sediment sampling program which identified six catchment areas which could be potential source areas for REE mineralisation in the North Block.
“We’ve got samples up to 0.26% TREO from the drainages which tells us that upstream from that sample point, there’s going to be more of these rare earths,” Ward said.
Ward is keen to get up and drilling at the project to follow up the REE potential already identified at Mojave.
“We’ve got really high-grade rare earths that are outcropping on these project areas, a market cap of ~$5m, $3.2m in cash in the bank, and massive upside,” he said.
“Along with El Campo, we’re going to have another crew following up on the north block area towards the end of November.
“If we get our approvals through sooner, then we’ll be drilling ASAP.”
This article was developed in collaboration with Locksley 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.