Voltaic hopes to repeat success of rare earths trailblazers in hunt for the hard rock source at Neo
Voltaic achieves high magnet rare earths recoveries in met testing of its REE-enriched clay Neo prospect, which could be related to a potential primary carbonatite source deeper down.
Earlier this year drilling at Neo, part of the Paddy’s Well project uncovered a large clay REE system.
Grades go as high at 10,072ppm TREO and widths up to 78m from surface, with that hit — 78m @ 1,001 ppm TREO — one of widest reported in Australia.
Results from early metallurgical testing show high magnet REE (MREE) — Nd, Pr, Dy, Tb — recoveries achieved using simple hydrochloric (HCL) acid leach of clay samples from Neo.
The average MREE recoveries were around 91% (100 g/L HCL) and 49% (25 g/L HCL) across four samples with a maximum extraction of 96% (100 g/L HCL), demonstrating a high proportion of valuable MREEs neodymium and praseodymium in the TREO matrix.
“The “first pass” drilling completed earlier this year at Neo identified significant mineralised clay intercepts (~80m widths) from surface, and the subsequent diagnostic metallurgical work has demonstrated that the valuable magnet REEs can be recovered from the clay by leaching in hydrochloric acid at room temperature and pressure,” VSR CEO Michael Walshe says.
“These leach recoveries are preliminary non-optimised only, and there remains considerable potential for improvement in recovery and acid consumption.
“Planning for a second phase of metallurgical work is underway to outline preliminary economic parameters such as optimisation of the acid consumption rate, leach response from various sample depths and locations, impurity removal metrics and selection of a preliminary flowsheet.”
The focus at Neo will now be to find the primary “hard rock” source of the mineralisation, which is interpreted to be of carbonatite (hard rock) origin.
Carbonatites contain the highest concentrations of REEs of any igneous rocks, as well as niobium, phosphates, iron, copper, vanadium, uranium, and titanium.
These latest leaching tests, and prior scanning electron microscope (SEM) analysis, indicate that the REEs are present as ultrafine primary, relict monazite or secondary rhabdophane (hydrous REE phosphate) particles.
The company notes the success that other exploration companies in the region have achieved, including Hastings Technology Metals (ASX: HAS) and Dreadnought Resources (ASX: DRE), in identifying carbonatite hosted REE’s which have been shown to have a high proportion of the valuable MREEs neodymium and praseodymium in the TREO matrix, and favourable metallurgical characteristics for economic extraction.
VSR is awaiting the processed results from the recently flown aerial magnetic and radiometric surveys which will help with the identification of the next generation of primary carbonatite targets that the company is aiming to drill test as soon as possible.
Only a small fraction of the extensive 1,300km2 tenement package at Paddys Well has been explored and the ‘critical Minerals’ prospectivity is very high due to the attractive geology.
The next phase of target generation is currently underway ahead of the next drill campaign where VSR’s focus is on primary REEs and niobium (carbonatites), and also copper and nickel sulphides.
This article was developed in collaboration with Voltaic Strategic Resources, 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.