This Aussie small cap strengthens foundation to become long-term rare earths supplier
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Special Report: Arafura Resources is making great strides in building its inventory of critical rare earths with its latest drill results.
The final drilling results from Arafura’s (ASX:ARU) 2019 program has returned thick intervals of rare earths mineralisation up to 200m vertically below the planned final mining pit at the Nolans neodymium-praseodymium (NdPr) project in the Northern Territory.
The nine-hole drilling program included four deep exploration holes targeting down-dip extensions to indicated and inferred resources in the deposit’s North and Southeast Zones.
Three of the four holes hit thick zones of rare earths mineralisation, with one hole drilled in the deposit’s North Zone intersecting 75.68m at 2.8 per cent total rare earths oxides (TREO) and 11 per cent phosphate (P2O5) from 364.37m.
Other top results from these three holes included 46.76m at 1.5% TREO and 7% P2O5 from 316.72m from the Southeast Zone and 65.15m at 1.5% TREO and 6% P2O5 from 422.88m from the North Zone.
The latest results bode well for a resource upgrade, with analysis of these zones confirming that the mineralisation and grades are consistent with the current resource.
Nolans already has an economic reserve of 19.2 million tonnes at 3 per cent TREO and is expected to produce 4,357 tonnes of NdPr oxide per annum for a minimum of 23 years.
NdPr makes up 26.4 per cent of the total rare earths content of the ore but is expected to produce 85 per cent of the project’s revenues.
“The deep drilling results confirm that Nolans Bore is an exceptional orebody in terms of its size, grade consistency and endowment in the magnet-feed rare earths neodymium and praseodymium,” managing director Gavin Lockyer said.
“It is the foundation of a long-term, reliable and sustainable supply of these critical materials from the Northern Territory.
“In my mind, we have now answered the question on its potential to deliver additional mineral resources at depth to support the development of the Nolans project far into the future.”
Arafura also drilled five shallow infill resource definition core holes across the Southeast Zone to confirm detailed geological and material type information.
These intersected thick zones of up to 4.7 per cent TREO and 22 per cent P2O5.
Arafura says the new data is consistent with expectations and will be used to refine resource modelling and better inform mine planning.
The company continues to tick the boxes as it advances towards becoming a globally significant rare earths producer. Just last week Arafura secured in-principle agreement for the native title approval over its Nolans project.