Victory Metals’ ability to produce a valuable, low-cost mixed REE concentrate is great news for North Stanmore
Special Report: Victory Metals’ North Stanmore project is becoming an increasingly prominent heavy rare earths play after follow-up metallurgical testing achieved strong recoveries with low forecast costs.
North Stanmore is Australia’s largest ionic/regolith clay-hosted heavy rare earth discovery with a current resource of 250Mt with 130,000t of contained TREO.
It is just 10km north of Cue, WA, and has direct access to the Great Northern Highway.
Importantly for Victory Metals (ASX:VTM), about 54% of the resource is classified as ‘critical metals’ by the US government while valuable magnet rare earths dysprosium and terbium, which are facing a predicted supply deficit of 70% by 2030.
An exploration target of between 700Mt and 1,100Mt grading 300-500ppm TREO over the remaining 82% of the project area not covered by the resource presents plenty of potential for growth.
Meanwhile, recent infill drilling returned wide intersections and strong TREO grades of up to 4,484ppm, which bodes well for the results of the updated resource estimate that is in the works with the remaining of assays expected to be reported in the near future.
Earlier metallurgical test work has also produced a mixed rare earth carbonate (MREC) test product with a very high heavy rare earth TREO concentration totalling 96.4%.
Follow-up metallurgical testing has now produced an optimised North Stanmore mixed rare earth carbonate concentrate with dysprosium making up a massive 73.6% of the product while terbium makes up a further 10% of the mix.
This compares very favourably with the mixed REE concentrate product with 9.4% dysprosium and 1.6% terbium that Sierra Verde is producing for commissioning of its processing plant at the Pela Ema project in Brazil.
Adding further interest for VTM, the test work confirms low extraction costs with forecast key unit operating costs of:
The process also produces low levels of deleterious radioactive elements uranium and thorium, which facilitates simple processing and product transport management resulting in reduced OPEX.
“The increasing global demand for heavy rare earth elements including dysprosium and terbium coupled with Victory’s high ratios of heavy rare earth oxide to total rare earth oxide, exceptional metallurgical recoveries with low processing unit costs for key reagents, enhances the commercial viability of the North Stanmore Project,” chief executive officer Brendan Clark said.
“These positive metallurgical test results, and the fact that Victory has already produced a mixed rare earth element carbonate test product, are expected to work towards an upgrade of the company’s JORC mineral resource estimate from inferred to the higher confidence indicated category.
“The MRE upgrade is advancing with drill assays being reported on time, further progressing Victory’s activities towards the company’s vision of becoming a low-cost producer of the heavy rare earths, in particular dysprosium and terbium, that are critical elements for both the renewable energy transition and defence sector, and which have a restricted supply chain, currently dominated by China.”
Clark added that the commissioning of the Serra Verde processing plant shows great potential for clay REE projects – such as North Stanmore – that benefit from high ratios of dysprosium and terbium.
Separately, VTM has appointed former WA planning and infrastructure minister Alannah MacTierna as its head of strategic relations.
She will work closely with governments and industry to promote North Stanmore, carry out policy analysis and monitor legislation for critical minerals projects.
The company will now move to complete its updated resource estimate and carry out further metallurgical test work with beneficiated bulk samples and produce a second mixed REE carbonate test product.
It will also start project studies.
This article was developed in collaboration with Victory 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.