Diversified Australian exploration company Broken Hill Prospecting (ASX: BPL) is preparing to commence exploration at the advanced La Paz rare earth project in west-central Arizona after completing the acquisition process.
The company confirmed it had received all title approvals covering 11 square kilometres of acreage in La Paz county, 170km north of Phoenix.
Over 8.9sq km contains 107 unpatented lode mining claims on federally-controlled land and the remaining 2.59sq km holds a prospecting permit over one section of Arizona State Trust land.
The tenements are unencumbered and are now 100% controlled by Broken Hill’s wholly-owned, US-based subsidiary La Paz Rare Earth LLC which was established in August to acquire and develop the large-tonnage project.
Broken Hill said it would immediately commence exploration with an extensive detailed structural mapping and sampling program focused on high-grade areas within the La Paz resource.
Bulk samples will be identified to progress metallurgical test work in support of technical and commercial project analysis.
The La Paz acquisition establishes Broken Hill’s entry into the lucrative US rare earths space.
It is now also the only ASX-listed company with exposure to this market.
Chief executive officer Trangie Johnston said the title approvals was a “great result” which would enable the company to “hit the ground running” in terms of upcoming exploration activities and project assessment.
“La Paz is located in a mining-friendly jurisdiction with world-class infrastructure, and demonstrates the potential to be the largest rare earth project in North America,” he said.
“[We are in a] very enviable position given US federal and Pentagon mandates to secure the supply of strategic technology metals.”
Mr Johnston said although the project is relatively low-grade, development of La Paz would be enhanced by the lack of penalty elements such as uranium and thorium.
“These [radioactive] elements have plagued many global rare earth projects to date,” he said.
“La Paz [by comparison] offers our shareholders a more environment-friendly solution in terms of investment in the rare earth space.”
In 2011, Australian American Mining Corporation Ltd (AusAmerican) conducted a drilling campaign 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.
Mr Johnston said Broken Hill’s planned exploration activities would focus on upgrading the current resource and obtaining bulk samples for metallurgical test work.
He said the company would also investigate converting a historic and independent NI 43-101 report carried out over the project area to JORC 2012 standards.