Voltaic Strategic Resources has initiated metallurgical test work to characterise the rare earth elements (REEs) identified within clays at its Paddy’s Well Project, in WA’s Gascoyne region, an emerging critical minerals hotspot.

The program will investigate REEs within the large clay intervals (up to ~30m true width) identified from near surface at the Neo prospect and determine:

  • What fraction of the REEs are ‘ionic’ (recoverable by ionic desorption leach);
  • What fraction of the REEs are in the more refractory colloidal and mineral phases; and
  • How temperature, acid concentration and pH influences recovery.

Voltaic Strategic Resources (ASX:VSR) has identified several both clay-hosted and primary hard rock REE targets at Paddy’s Well and this test work will enable the company to make informed decisions on whether it would be more economical and efficient to continue targeting clay-hosted REEs or to shift focus solely to hard rock.


Economic viability the focus

Chief executive Michael Walshe said conducting metallurgical testing at such a nascent stage of the project’s development displays the company’s proactive approach towards the efficient deployment of capital.

Notably, halloysite – a common kaolinitic clay mineral found in true REE ionic adsorption deposits (IADs) – has already been identified at the project.

“The key test will be to determine the ionic adsorption potential of the REE-enriched clays using ammonium sulphate as the ion-exchange medium under mildly acidic conditions,” Walshe said.

“Most of the clay hosted REE discoveries made in Western Australia thus far have not proven to be true IADs, with the majority requiring aggressive low pH, highly acidic conditions to leach, which limits their potential economic viability.”


Pursuing clay and hard rock targets

“In less than six months, we have identified a large REE clay system at Neo, along with several other primary hard rock targets, and metallurgical testing of the clay is the most logical next step,” Walshe said.

“We have already identified the presence of halloysite within these clays which is encouraging for IAD potential and look forward to commencing the work mid-April.

“In parallel, we will continue to pursue our several primary hard rock targets.”




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.