iTech Minerals (ASX: ITM) has discovered another rare earth element (REE) prospect at is Eyre Peninsula project in South Australia – confirming the region’s REE potential.
A review of Archer Materials’ (ASX: AXE) historic drilling data which was focused on manganese exploration has identified “significant” REE mineralisation at the Salt Creek prospect within an ion adsorption clay setting.
Additionally, the mineralisation contains “significant enrichment” of elements neodymium and praesidium with an average grade of 23%. These elements are critical to production of the permanent magnets in electric vehicles and renewable energy.
As well as neodymium and praesidium the mineralisation also comprised “desirable” heavy REE oxides (about 39%), which attract premium prices.
Notable REE intercepts in the historic drill data were 30m at 511 parts per million total rare earth oxides (TREO) from 3m, including 3m at 1,327ppm TREO from 30m; 6m at 1,507ppm TREO from 16m; and 12m at 1,698ppm TREO from surface, including 4m at 3,093ppm TREO from surface.
iTech managing director Mike Schwarz the discovery of REE at Salt Creek confirmed the Eyre Peninsula project’s prospectivity for the minerals.
“With over 1,400 square kilometres of ground in the region and a huge amount of historical data from Archer to guide us, we are in a very strong position to capitalise on this potential,” he added.
Archer had previously drilled across 1.1km in a north to south direction, with REE open in multiple directions.
The Salt Creek REE discovery follows iTech identifying REE at the Ethiopia prospect within the project in October.
Metallurgical test work
iTech will send representative samples from both Salt Creek and Ethiopia to ANSTO laboratories in Sydney for analysis.
According to iTech, ANSTO specialises in the metallurgical extraction of REE from IAC-style deposits.
Results from the test work are expected to indicate the recoveries that can be achieved and provide better understanding of IAC-style mineralisation at the project.
Meanwhile, historic data will be used to help plan an upcoming drilling program at Eyre Peninsula which will evaluate the potential for REE and kaolin.