RareX (ASX: REE) has received the final batch of assays from its Cummins Range project in Western Australia which confirms that there are high grades of both rare earth elements and the steel strengthener niobium.
These latest results from the project, located in the Kimberley region, will be incorporated into an updated mineral resource estimate to be released in the first quarter of 2021.
The company will resume drilling in March to target the higher-grade mineralisation.
RareX says its “highly successful” maiden infill and extensional drill program is now complete, with the latest assays confirming depth extensions of previously reported wide mineralised zones and also highlighting the potential for high-grade primary mineralisation at depth.
Shaping up as ‘company maker’
The latest assays include two zones in hole 54, firstly 39m at 1.1% total rare earth oxides (TREO) and 0.1% niobium, followed by 47m at 3.1% TREO and 0.1% niobium.
Hole 53 returned 66m at 1.8% TREO and 0.3% niobium with three high-grade sections, including 6m at 5.6% TREO and 0.5% niobium.
Other holes assayed at 6m at 5.1% TREO, 63m at 1.3% TREO and 0.3% niobium, and 58m at 1.1 TREO and 0.3% niobium.
Managing director Jeremy Robinson said the drill results have reinforced the scale, quality, and commercial potential of this deposit.
RareX believes it can develop Cummins Range at a low capital cost.
“With rare earth prices continuing to perform strongly, this is an exciting time to be progressing a high-quality asset in a tier-onr jurisdiction and we believe that Cummins Range could represent a company-making opportunity for our shareholders over the next few years,” he added.
Mr Robinson has said previously that niobium commands a much higher price to REO and could enhance the project’s economics.
Niobium in steel means lighter products
Niobium is one of the 35 critical minerals identified by both the US and Australian governments as a mineral of strategic weakness due to their concentrated supply source with Brazil supplying some 90% of the world market.
Niobium (also known as columbium) is used to strengthen steel for use in automobiles, aircraft, pipelines, satellites and some military equipment, thus making it possible to use less steel and reduce weight of the end product.
While Brazil supplies 90% of the world’s niobium, three quarters of that production comes from one company — Companhia Brasileira de Metalurgia e Mineração (CBBM) operating in the south of Minas Gerais state.
Niobium is used to lighten the weight of luxury and racing car components.
Canada is the only other substantial producer of niobium.