The rare earth element (REE) potential at iTech Minerals’ (ASX: ITM) Caralue Bluff and Ethiopia prospects has continued to expand within the Eyre Peninsula project in South Australia.
iTech has now received more assays from drilling across the two prospects with highlight results from Caralue Bluff comprising 30m at 1,783 parts per million total rare earth oxides (TREO) from 3m, 23m at 1,058ppm TREO from 7m, and 20m at 936ppm TREO from 8m.
Over at Ethiopia notable assays were 5m at 1,315ppm TREO from 3m, 5m at 826ppm TREO from 1m, and 16m at 758ppm TREO from 2m.
Drilling has now confirmed REEs at Caralue Bluff extends over a 10km by 6km area, while the footprint at Ethiopia is 1.7km by 1.3km.
Commenting on the results, iTech managing director Mike Schwarz said they show both the shallow nature and large extent of the REE prospects that are within a clay-rich horizon.
“The Eyre Peninsula in South Australia is a very supportive mining jurisdiction with great access to transport, electricity and water infrastructure compared to more remote parts of the world,” Mr Schwarz pointed out.
Metallurgical test work
Initial metallurgical test work on mineralisation samples from Caralue Bluff and Ethiopia has confirmed a ionic adsorption clay (IAC) component is present in the mineralisation.
However, the company says further test work is required to evaluate the extent to which the REEs are easily leachable.
Further leaching test work results are anticipated from Caralue Bluff within four weeks, while Ethiopia samples are being prepared for analysis.
As part of the test work process, iTech is ensuring samples are representative of the entire range within each prospect.
Advantage of IAC REE
IAC-style REE is known to primarily occur in China, but is increasingly being identified across South Australia and Victoria.
According to iTech, this style of REE can be highly profitable due to lower extraction costs. In IAC-style deposits, the REE can be leached from clays with a simple ammonium sulphate at room temperature.
REEs are considered critical minerals due to their necessity in technologies driving the transition to net zero such as electric vehicles and renewable energies.