• Meteoric Resources hits 5m @ 19.7g/t gold from 9m at new Mt Bradley target, part of 355,000oz Palm Springs project
  • Resource Base has option to acquire early-stage lithium projects in the James Bay district of Quebec
  • MC Mining (coal), Taruga Minerals (rare earths), Firebird Metals (manganese) up on no news

Here are the biggest small cap resources winners in early trade, Friday February 24.



MEI is up a dizzying +800% since inking a deal in December to buy a ‘Tier 1’ ionic clay rare earth project called Caldeira in Brazil.

But today’s small bump may be more to do with its 355,000oz Palm Springs gold project in WA, where fresh drill assays include an impressive 5m @ 19.7g/t Au from 9m at the new Mt Bradley target.

“Clearly we need to follow up this intersection,” MEI boss Dr Andrew Tunks says.

“We are developing our exploration programs for the up-coming field season due to commence in May/June 2023.”

A two stage, 3000-5000m drilling program is planned. Stage 1 of the planned drill program will occur over the known resources of Golden Crown (400kt @ 3.1 for 38koz Au) and Faugh-a-Ballagh which could not be completed as part of the last drill program in 2022.

Stage 2 will be a continuation of drilling along strike and down dip from the Mt Bradley intercept (5m @ 19.7g/t Au).

$220m capped MEI had ~$3m in the bank at the end of December, with another $17.5m on the way thanks to the sale of a Brazilian gold project in October last year.



Another Canadian lithium project acquisition.

Aussie rare earths explorer RBX has the option to acquire the early stage Wali and Ernst Lake projects, a proverbial stone’s throw from popular stocks Winsome Resources (ASX:WR1) and Patriot Battery Metals (ASX:PMT) in the James Bay district of Quebec.

RBX now has ~45 days to decide whether it wants to buy or not.

During this option period, the company intends to review existing data, before getting boots on the ground to confirm and test several of the targets for their potential to contain lithium.

The deal will cost the company CAD$300,000, 6m shares and a 2% royalty on any future production, as well as 8m performance shares “upon the achievement of diamond drill results with at least 20m intercept at 1% lithium (LiO2) at either of the projects on or before 31 December 2024”.

Earlier this month, RBX reported a maiden 21Mt @767ppm resource at the Mitre Hill clay rare earths project on the Victoria/South Australia border.

Project studies and growing the resource further are now the focus, it says.

The $8.5m capped stock is up 67% year-to-date.

It had $1.3m in the bank at the end of December – enough for two to three-quarters of funding at the current burn rate.



(Up on no news)

Despite sky high coal prices this small South African producer had a rough FY22, posting a $20.8m loss after tax thanks to civil unrest, lower production, and increased input costs.

It went on to post a smaller loss of $2.9m on $17.7m revenues in the December half.

But MCM’s main game in the long term is the 296Mt ‘Makhado’ hard coking coal project (68% interest), also in South Africa.

A recently completed BFS envisages a production of 13.7Mt (coking) and 11.9Mt (thermal) over a 22-year mine life. Post-tax IIR and NPV were estimated at 38.2% and $268m, respectively.

The project would use existing infrastructure to minimise upfront costs, which were estimated at $41m.

The company has since conducted an optimisation study to increase capacity from 3Mtpa to 4Mtpa.

A $40m raise during the quarter was a milestone towards the complete financing of Makhado “and the positioning of MC Mining as the only large-scale producer of hard coking coal in South Africa”, the company says.

Early works on the project will kick off early 2023, with full funding expected to be finalised in the first half of the year.

The $90m capped stock is down 15% year-to-date. It had $20.5m in the bank at the end of December.



(Up on no news)

The South Australian explorer has pivoted from copper into clay rare earths exploration at its Mt Craig project.

As a result of this realignment of priorities, CEO Thomas Line resigned earlier this month.

“Following the recent drilling campaign at Mt Craig in 2022, the company is seeking to validate a potential flowsheet for extraction of the magnet REE oxides (MREO) identified before further exploration drilling is conducted,” it says.

“A phased program of further metallurgical testing is underway to identify the minerals hosting the MREO, with the aim to determine a flowsheet that will have the potential for economic recovery of the high value elements.”

Early stage met test work has already shown that extraction of up to 70% of the MREO and 60% of the heavy REE oxides (HREO) is achievable in a moderate acid solution.

This work is important to test whether a project is economic or not.

Further optimisation work will now be undertaken, the company says.

The $12m capped stock is flat year to date. It had $4.12m in the bank at the end of December, enough for five quarters of funding at the current burn rate.



(Up on no news)

Spun out of Firefly Resources — the gold explorer that secured a memorable and strange merger with Gascoyne Resources (ASX:GCY) last year — FRB’s aim is to develop a “significant manganese production hub” in the Pilbara with an operating life of over 20 years.

Manganese is a key ingredient used to strengthen steel but is also finding favour as a component in lithium-ion batteries.

It has started a scoping study into the production of HPMSM (high-purity manganese sulphate monohydrate) at the flagship Oakover project, 85km east of Newman.

The explorer last month announced it had successfully produced a 99.8% purity manganese sulphate monohydrate crystal from its Oakover ore, meeting battery grade specification and containing upwards of 32% manganese.

“This is an outstanding result and places Firebird and Oakover in a very strong position moving forward,” FRB MD Peter Allen, sometimes referred to as Mr Manganese for his decades of experience in the sector, said.

“It is highly encouraging that this result meets the requirements for battery grade specifications and highlights the high-quality nature of our flagship Oakover Project.

“Importantly, we are developing Oakover at a time where demand for manganese within the lithium-ion battery sector continues to grow rapidly, as electric vehicle and battery cathode manufacturers have stated their desire to increase the amount of manganese within lithium-ion batteries, due to the cost benefits obtained whilst maintaining energy density.

“We have taken a major step as a manganese developer and we will now focus our attention to rapidly progressing and completing our high-purity manganese sulphate scoping study, which we announced in October.”

The $12m capped stock is up 6% year-to-date. It had $2.6m in the bank at the end of December, enough funding for between two and three quarters at the current burn rate.