Resources Top 5: NO WA1! Junior explorer rockets 220% on high grade niobium-rare earths discovery
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Here are the biggest small cap resources winners in early trade, Wednesday October 26.
Everyone loves critical minerals, and everyone loves a discovery story.
This punter love has coalesced into mammoth early Wednesday gains for WA1, after it announced the discovery a niobium-rare earths carbonatite mineralised system at the West Arunta project in WA.
Niobium is a critical mineral mainly used in steel to make it stronger and lighter, but also has growing uses in lithium-ion batteries, intelligent glass, solar panels, 5G tech, and nuclear energy.
Ferroniobium metal (65% Nb) currently sells for ~US$45,000/t.
WA1’s only drillhole into the P2 target, part of the Pachpadra prospect area, pulled up thick, high grade numbers like 54m at 0.62% niobium, 0.18% rare earths and 3.85% phosphorus from 162m.
The 216m-long hole ended in 2m at 1.22% Nb2O5, 0.22% TREO, and 5.73% P2O5.
There are three major niobium mines in the world; two are very high grade (between 1% and 2.5% ore grade), while the third sits at around 0.5%.
The Panda Hill niobium project, previously owned by Cradle Resources (ASX:CXX), had an ore reserve grade of 0.68%. Globe Metals and Mining’s (ASX:GBE) advanced Kanyika project has a resource of 68Mt at a grade of 0.283%.
The fact that the hole at P2 finishes in material grading 1.22% means this thing could be getting better at depth. P2 also extends for 3km and has significant future exploration potential, WA1 says.
“The discovery of a mineralised carbonatite system in the West Arunta is the first of its kind in the region and is a significant finding from our maiden drilling program,” managing director Paul Savich says.
“For our first hole at P2 to have intersected high-grade niobium mineralisation that remains open and with the highest grade at the end-of-hole (2m at 1.22% Nb2O5) along with elevated rare earth elements and phosphorus, is an exciting result.
“To date, we have only assayed 4m composite samples commencing from 74m depth in this hole, where drilling entered fresh bedrock.
“With the knowledge that we are in a mineralised carbonatite system, we will assay single metre splits for the entire hole.
There are also other untested anomalies within the project area, which could now represent further targets for this style of mineralisation, Savich says.
“Over the coming months we will collate a comprehensive dataset from the drilling program and plan follow-up exploration activities.”
The recently listed spinout of private project generator Tali Resources is led by non-exec chair Gary Lethridge, who was CFO at the highly successful Jubilee Mines until its $3.1 billion takeover by Xstrata. Could this be another win for Gary?
In news first announced yesterday BRB will sell the underlying tenements and remaining 20% stake in the 9.9Mt Manna lithium project to high-flyer Global Lithium (ASX:GL1) for $60m.
BRB retains full rights to explore and/or develop gold and other precious metals on the tenements, while retaining a 1.5% NSR royalty on non-precious metals from the expanded area “giving it continued exposure to any additional lithium discoveries in the area”.
This is a genuine win-win deal for both groups, BRB boss Peter Cook says.
“Breaker sells its non-core minority interest and gets a substantial cash injection that leaves the Company with a cash balance of ~$82 million when the company has a market capitalisation of just $75 million today,” he says.
“Breaker continues to progress its Lake Roe gold discovery through development studies as well as continues to extend and upgrade the game changing deeper primary lodes within the ore system.
“The Breaker board’s focus is on determining the best way to develop Lake Roe and create the most wealth for its shareholders.
“If a standalone development is the best option, this transaction takes us a long way to ensuring it is funded.”
The 1.7Moz Lake Roe project includes the near surface Bombora deposit – a proposed 3km-long open pit with high endowment of 4,000oz per vertical metre.
The discovery of many high-grade lodes beneath the pit over the past 18 months prompted BRB to study a complementary underground mining operation at Bombora.
The Stage 1 underground could produce 88,000oz at cash cost of $1,087/oz and total cost of $1,390/oz, it says.
Three diamond rigs are now running with a focus on increasing the Indicated component of the underground resource to assist planned mining studies.
(Up on no news)
In September, phosphate stock AEV has gained 66% since announcing a move into LFP battery cathode production.
AEV inked a non-binding deal with Lithium Iron Phosphate (LFP) battery manufacturer Aleees and the NT government to build a battery cathode manufacturing plant in Darwin, leveraging Avenira’s flagship 67Mt Wonarah phosphate project.
EV, Aleees and the NT will now work towards a LFP battery cathode manufacturing facility in a phased capacity program starting at 5,000-10,000tpa in 2023/24 and potentially scaling to 200,000tpa by 2032.
A Wonarah scoping study – the first proper look at the economics of building a project — is also nearing completion, AEV says. Financing talks are also underway.
They are ostensibly cheaper than NCA or NCM (nickel manganese cobalt) cells, mainly because they don’t require scarce and price-volatile metals such as nickel or cobalt.
They also have much longer useful lifetimes, though this is offset by lower energy densities.
(Up on no news)
Fromer pot stock OLY re-listed as a WA gold, nickel, and lithium explorer in May this year after raising $6m at 20c per share.
In August, it identified numerous pegmatite intersections in historic drilling at its Mulwarrie project near Kalgoorlie, in the same province as Red Dirt’s (ASX:RDT) ~13Mt Mt Ida lithium project.
Mapping and sampling of newly identified areas were “to commence immediately”, it said 16 August.
Later the same month OLY defined a couple of priority gold targets at the Halls Creek project.
“Our on-field exploration and systematic data-compilation have highlighted several areas at the Rubens and Figaro prospects that are under-explored and require follow-up drilling,” OLY managing director Sean Delaney said 29 August.
“The Olympio exploration team will be back in the field in this week, refining these drill targets and working towards our maiden drill program in Q4 this year.”
The junior explorer now has shareholder approval to acquire the Lyndon lithium-rare earths project, which immediately abuts Dreadnought Resources’ (ASX:DRE) big REE discovery at Yin.
Recent granting and ministerial consent to transfer has been received for two out of the three tenements which make up the project, where early soil sampling has already identified a bunch of lithium and REE targets, ODE exec director David Lenigas says.
“This is major milestone for Odessa as we move towards exploring for REEs and lithium on these exciting tenements,” he says.
“We have already identified seven targets for potential REE mineralisation on a broad zone of pegmatites within these tenements which have elevated lithium grades in soils.
“We are also highly encouraged with the rare earth drilling results that Dreadnought Resources are getting from their Yin project to the east of Lyndon.”