A high-impact maiden drilling program is set to commence this week at RareX’s (ASX: REE) Weld North rare earths project, 350 kilometres north of Kalgoorlie in Western Australia.
The project covers a large and circular magnetic anomaly which RareX believes may represent a carbonatite intrusive complex similar to those hosting the majority of the world’s existing rare earth elements deposits.
These include Lynas Corporation’s (ASX: LYC) high-grade Mt Weld mine, located 84km south of Weld North, and RareX’s flagship Cummins Range rare earths project.
The Weld North program will comprise inexpensive aircore drilling to test under the cover sequence across the full width of the deposit’s interpreted intrusion.
It will assess if the source of the magnetic anomaly is a carbonatite intrusion (similar to the Mt Weld mine) or a granitic one.
Drilling will take up to three weeks with results expected in the new year.
Managing director Jeremy Robinson said the drilling program would deliver the “first real assessment” of Weld North’s geology.
“While our core focus remains on the development of Cummins Range, success from this drilling at Weld North could deliver a substantial re-rating for [us],” he said.
“We are greatly encouraged by the recent surge in pricing for key rare earths elements, driven by the rapidly growing use of REPMs.”
He said the Weld North magnetic anomaly could be caused by an Archean granitic intrusion.
“Surface inspection of the intrusion did not result in any positive identification of a magnetic source or the identification of any primary geology due to the significant sandy cover sequence,” he said.
“The circular shape and size comparison to Mt Weld indicates [to us] that the Weld North magnetic anomaly is highly prospective for a significant rare earths discovery.”
Drilling at the high-potential Weld North will take place against a backdrop of renewed interest in the rare earths sector and recent strong appreciation in the price of many major rare earth elements, particularly those used in rare earth permanent magnets (REPMs) for the electric vehicle and renewable energy sectors.
The price of neodymium-praseodymium oxide (the main elements used in these magnets) has increased by approximately 40% since the start of November to sit at approximately $91 per kilogram currently.