Special Report: MTM Critical Metals is acquiring Flash Metals – and three key exploration licenses prospective for niobium and rare earth elements (REE) in the West Arunta region of WA.

The West Arunta region is one of Australia’s critical metal exploration hotspots with over $60m invested in exploration collectively across the district by a number of ASX companies, including Rio Tinto (ASX:RIO) via its JV with Tali Resources, CGN Resources (ASX:CGR) and IGO (ASX:IGO).

As part of the acquisition, MTM Critical Metals (ASX:MTM) takes ownership of the West Arunta REE project as well as the Mukinbudin niobium-REE project located 250km northeast of Perth.

Notably, the West Arunta licences are immediately adjacent to tenements held by WA1 Resources (ASX:WA1) and Encounter Resources (ASX:ENR) where niobium-REE mineralised carbonatites have recently been discovered including:

  • P2 carbonatite of 54m at 0.62% Nb2O5 (WA1);
  • Luni carbonatite of 31m at 3.5% Nb2O5 including 13m at 5.0% Nb2O5 (WA1); and
  • Crean carbonatite discovery of 282m at 0.54% Nb2O5 and 0.17% TREO from 64m (ENR).


Prospective for mineralised carbonatites

Historical exploration in the West Arunta region is very limited, with no drilling and limited ground geophysical and geochemical surveys completed, despite the area being explored for gold and copper with reconnaissance airborne geophysics.

MTM managing director Lachlan Reynolds said the Flash acquisition provided the company with compelling exploration opportunities in line with its strategy to discover and develop critical metal projects.

“We are very excited to acquire such prospective ground in the West Arunta province, where there is an opportunity to discover new niobium-rare earth deposits in historically untested ground right next door to some emerging mineralised carbonatite projects identified by both WA1 and ENR,” he said.

Reynolds said the immediate focus at West Arunta was to complete heritage agreements with the local Native Title holders, then proceed with a first-pass exploration program.


MTM Critical Metals
Pic: The West Arunta niobium-REE project comprises three granted exploration licences. Source: MTM.


Flash Joule Heating Technology

Through the acquisition of Flash, the company now holds an option to enter into exclusive negotiations over a licensing agreement for Flash Joule Heating (FJH) technology.

FJH is a new processing and recycling technology being developed to extract critical metals like REE, nickel, cobalt and lithium from natural mineralisation and from waste material including lithium-ion batteries, eWaste, Coal Fly Ash (CFA) produced by coal-fired power stations or ‘red mud’ derived from bauxite processing in the aluminium industry.

The technology involves the rapid and intense heating of material to volatilise metals directly or to make them more amenable to extraction with conventional acid leaching.

Test work demonstrates that FJH is scalable and has potential to both directly recover critical metals and also to make materials more amenable to metal recovery through conventional acid leaching methods.

“Flash Joule Heating has shown promise during test work for metal recycling and for treatment of waste such as coal fly ash but we are very keen to see what applications it may have for treating rare earth mineralisation, where a breakthrough could unlock immense value from otherwise economically marginal deposits,” Reynolds said.

MTM plans to undertake tests of mineralisation from its own REE carbonatite and clay projects using the technology.



This article was developed in collaboration with MTM Critical 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.