Initial drilling results at iTech Minerals’ (ASX: ITM) Ethiopia prospect on South Australia’s Eyre Peninsula have confirmed substantial intervals of rare earth elements (REE) mineralisation in a kaolin-rich weathered horizon.
The 115-hole program was designed to test the potential for ion adsorption clay (IAC) REE within high purity kaolin mineralisation at the company’s Eyre Peninsula assets.
Results from the first 23 holes showed a significant REE in the clay-rich weathering profile including 12m at 1,057 parts per million total rare earth oxides (TREO) from 7m; 26m at 972ppm TREO from 0m; 19m at 988ppm TREO from 2m; and 10m at 1,142ppm TREO from 2m.
iTech said 16 holes had significant intervals of kaolin and were screened to concentrate the kaolin (clay) fraction, while 15 of them showed significant REE mineralisation in the kaolin fraction and confirm results from sampling of historical holes.
Metallurgical work on mineralised samples also confirms that an ionic component is present at Ethiopia, however further work is needed to test the extent to which the REEs are easily leachable.
High purity prospect
The Ethiopia prospect was initially established as a high purity kaolin target with the identification of thick intervals of bright white kaolin, close to surface, in several historical drill holes.
iTech geologists observed that the weathering profile contained significant levels of the REE indicator element cerium and submitted historical samples for analysis for the full suite of REE.
The results revealed thick intervals of elevated REE mineralisation in the fine kaolin-rich fraction.
In March, iTech conducted diagnostic metallurgy on decade-old samples from the Eyre Peninsula to identify whether the mineralisation had an IAC REE component.
The work aimed to determine whether the ionic adsorption of REE onto clays was a geological process present at Ethiopia and the neighbouring Burtons prospect within the Eyre Peninsula project.
The samples showed encouraging levels of ionically adsorbed rare earth elements and confirmed the presence of an ionic component.
Latest drilling results suggest the mineralisation at Ethiopia extends over a distance of at least 1.3 kilometres.
Pending assays have the potential to significantly expand this area.