After a review of historical data, RareX (ASX: REE) has confirmed an average 22.1% neodymium-praseodymium (NdPr) within its wholly owned Cummins Range rare earths project in Western Australia’s Kimberley.
RareX described the confirmation as “highly attractive enrichment characteristics” and noted there were also “ultra-low” levels of thorium averaging 50 parts per million.
The company pointed out most monazite from mineral sands contained between 1% and 10% thorium.
With the low thorium contaminant levels, RareX claims Cummins Range has a “distinct advantage” over other rare earth projects.
RareX also noted the NdPr content was comparable with other similar known deposits including major producer Lynas Corporation’s (ASX: LYC) Mt Weld project (24.7%), Peak Resources’ (ASX: PEK) Ngualla (21.3%) and MP Materials’ Mountain Pass asset (16.3%).
Cummins Range hosts a current inferred resource of 13 million tonnes at 1.13% total rare earth oxides plus yttrium.
Once COVID-19 regional restrictions have been lifted, RareX plans to undertake an infill drilling program to upgrade the resource. This has been pencilled-in to start in July.
With rare earths, particularly NdPr, earmarked as critical minerals in many countries due to their necessity in electric vehicles, wind turbines and military applications, there has been mounting pressure to develop deposits outside of China which currently dominates the space.
RareX’s strategic partner Talaxis Group has been engaging with downstream processors and refiners.
The companies have noted “strong demand” for NdPr-rich concentrates and “productive discussions” are underway with interested parties.
Rare earth market
With China dominating the rare earth scene and tensions building between it and other nations, there has been a shift towards domestic rare earth supplies – particularly in the US.
RareX pointed out that earlier this month, US Republican Senator Ted Cruz introduced legislation to facilitate the revival of the industry in the country. The legislation included tax breaks for mine developers and manufacturers.
It is anticipated rare earth prices will continue increasing along with “perceived supply shocks” due to geopolitical tensions and the COVID-19 pandemic.
In keeping with this the NdPr oxide price rose five days in a row from 14 May due to higher stockpiling and rising demand in China as the COVID-19 pandemic in the country abated.
The NdPr oxide price is currently attracting around US$38 per kilogram.
“The expectation is that demand will continue to pick up alongside the post-pandemic economic recovery,” RareX stated.