Meeka Gold eyeing position in critical minerals supply chain as rare earths discoveries continue at Circle Valley
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A significant West Australian deposit of clay hosted rare earths is continuing to reveal itself as drilling hits more success for Meeka Gold at its Circle Valley project.
The latest assays include grades of up to 1748ppm rare earths with high value products for the magnets that power electric vehicles and wind turbines making up 47% of the total rare earths oxide grade.
High grade scandium of up to 132g/t was also struck, a very important find for Meeka (ASX:MEK) given scandium oxide trades for premium prices of more than US$1000/kg.
Almost 15,000m of drill samples are still pending assay and expected to be received and reported over the next two months.
That will pave the way for resource definition drilling to start in late 2022 after drilling at the Cascade rare earths project is complete.
Results from the latest assays include:
Rare earths are highly sought after metals, with prices of neodymium and praseodymium oxide fetching near record highs of US$148/kg and US$147/kg right now.
The critical minerals have received strong support from the government for their development in WA and Australia in general due to Western countries’ desires to build supply chains outside the major Chinese market.
The high proportion of those premium minerals have Meeka very excited about the future at Circle Valley.
“These assays continue to strengthen the view that there is a high value deposit of rare earth metals at our 100% owned Circle Valley Project,” Meeka MD Tim Davidson said.
“While we still have a large number of assays pending, we can already identify zones that host consistent thick, shallow, high-grades and these will be targeted by resource definition drilling later this year.
“Importantly, these high-grade zones have very high proportions of the valuable magnet rare earths, over 45% of the total grade in areas. We are also seeing very high scandium grades associated with the high-grade rare earths.
“Scandium is a valuable alloying metal used with aluminium to create lightweight, high-strength products and could provide a meaningful by-product within a rare earth Mineral Resource.”
Circle Valley looks to be a clay-hosted deposit, something which differs from the hard rock deposits commonly found in WA like Lynas’s massive Mt Weld mine.
Clay-hosted deposits are often cheaper to build and operate than hard rock mines due to their shallow nature, and the low capital intensity of processing softer clay-based ores.
The dominant form of rare earths production in southern China, they do not require the same high cost comminution of beneficiation process as hard rock mines.
They also tend to have a high proportion of magnet rare earth elements neodymium and praseodymium, as well as low strip ratios and no blasting requirements.
Clay-hosted deposits may also not produce radioactive waste, one of the key environmental concerns around production of rare earths oxides from hard rock mines.
Alongside low carbon energy and transport, rare earths magnets have applications in mobile phones and military systems, heightening the need for secure supply chains for the materials outside China.
The geopolitical importance of rare earths was identified in a recent trade mission to the US, where the Pentagon urged the US Government to fund Australian strategic mining of materials used to make electric vehicles and weapons in an effort to reduce US reliance on China for lithium, rare earths and other minerals.
This article was developed in collaboration with Meeka Gold, 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.