Diversified Australian exploration company Broken Hill Prospecting (ASX: BPL) has formed a wholly-owned US-based subsidiary to acquire and develop the large-tonnage La Paz rare earth project in Arizona.
La Paz Rare Earth LLC has staked more than 8.9 square kilometres comprising 107 unpatented lode mining claims on federal land, as well as a prospecting permit over one section of Arizona State Trust land comprising an additional 2.59sq km.
The tenements are unencumbered and will be controlled by La Paz Rare Earth LLC.
Location notices for the lode mining claims have been filed with Arizona’s Bureau of Land Management while a prospecting permit application is in progress at the State of Arizona Land Department.
Approval for all applications are expected in coming weeks, after which Broken Hill plans to conduct mapping and re-testing of bulk samples to progress metallurgical work in support of technical and commercial project analysis.
The company said it may also carry out additional drilling programs to underpin a scoping study to pre-feasibility study level.
According to chief executive officer Trangie Johnston, La Paz has the potential to become the largest rare earth project in North America.
“[This project] offers a unique opportunity for exposure to the US rare earths market, where security of supply is critical because of rising global trade tensions,” he said.
“The potential scale of this project, in a mining-friendly environmental jurisdiction and close to world class infrastructure, means [we will be] focused on quickly advancing our work here.”
Rare earth content
Located within the the Basin-Range Province of central Arizona, the La Paz project was first shown to contain rare earth elements during exploration sampling programs in mid-2010.
Mineralisation in the area has been defined by structurally-controlled zones containing pervasive epidote and epidote veinlets in micro-fractures, dominantly hosted within a foliated to brecciated quartz-feldspar granitic gneiss.
Allanite, a variety of epidote, is the principal rare earth-hosting mineral.
During 2011, Australian American Mining Corporation Ltd (AusAmerican) drilled 195 percussion holes for 5,120m to support a maiden total indicated resource of 16.2 million tonnes at 373.4 parts per million (0.037%) total rare earth elements, equating to 12.1 million pounds of rare earth elements.
The company also defined a total inferred resource of 112Mt at 371.5ppm (0.037%) total rare earth elements or 83.3Mlb rare earth elements.
The entire resource was found within 30m of surface and either exposed or lightly concealed by alluvium.
Favourable host rock and mineralisation are open at depth and to lateral extension in all but one direction.
In its report at the time, AusAmerican said the La Paz deposit, although of relative low grade, “excels by its sheer volume, uncomplicated mineralogy, lack of uranium and thorium, favourable preliminary metallurgical work, and location”.
Mr Johnston said Broken Hill would investigate the conversion of AusAmerican’s report and supporting data to JORC 2012 standards.
At mid-afternoon, shares in Broken Hill were trading 41.94% higher at $0.044 before going into a trading halt.