West Cobar Metals advancing global critical minerals hunt with multi-pronged approach

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By Colin Hay - 
West Cobar ASX WC1 projects update Salazar rare earths Nevada lithium Bulla

West Cobar Metals (ASX: WC1) continues to make progress on a number of fronts in its multi-jurisdictional hunt for metals forecast to be of significant demand in the global push to net zero.

In Western Australia, West Cobar reports it has made significant advancement towards commercialising its Salazar rare earths project in the state’s far south.

West Cobar says Salazar is now one of Australia’s leading clay-hosted rare earth element (REE) projects after the company added a number of tenements acquired from Dundas Minerals (ASX: DUN).

The 451 square kilometre Dundas Minerals tenements are contiguous to West Cobar’s Salazar rare earth element project, increasing the Salazar landholding to a total of 1,171 sq km in the highly prospective Esperance region of WA.

Tenement review underway

The company is currently conducting a major review of the newly acquired tenement area and is planning a drilling campaign for H1 2024 to potentially extend its Newmont prospect resource, which appears to extend into licence E63/2056.

In addition, the company is conducting a thorough review of the extensive Dundas database.

West Cobar has now engaged project development expert NeoMet Engineering to guide various project development workstreams.

This includes several studies in areas such as preliminary engineering, environmental, approvals, and mining.

Metallurgy studies look promising

Phase 1 of a series of leaching trials are nearing completion, with results anticipated before the end of the year.

Those results are expected to be fed into an overall project development pathway.

A study to determine the potential flowsheet for the significant titanium content of the ore in its Newmont deposit at Salazar is also expected to be added to the overall development pathway evaluations.

The company has been working with Nagrom to run a number of Newmont ore samples through magnetic separation to determine the potential flowsheet for the significant titanium content of the ore.

Drill planning underway

The company has prioritised drilling to test the upside potential within the new Dundas tenements and to extend the Newmont indicated and inferred resource, which stands at 83 million tonnes of 1,117 parts per million total rare earth oxide.

Further drilling around the established O’Connor inferred resource of 107Mt at 1,216ppm total rare earth oxides is also being planned.

West Cobar is also contemplating undertaking a reconnaissance drilling campaign at the 575 sq km Lanthanos tenement to the east of the Newmont, O’Connor and Dundas licences where the REE potential is also considered substantial.

Nevada results imminent

In the USA, West Cobar is eagerly awaiting the return of assay results from the recently completed drilling program at its Nevada lithium project.

In late November, West Cobar reported the completion of a program of eight reverse circulation (RC) drill holes totalling 1,016m at the company’s 100%-owned Montezuma Well and Big Smoky Valley Projects in the Tonopah district.

Six RC holes were drilled at Big Smoky Valley. Thick intervals of green claystones and clayey tuffaceous sequences were intersected.

Significant landholding

Earlier this year, West Cobar staked 242 mining claims near Tonopah.

Situated within the world class Nevada lithium district, West Cobar’s Nevada project tenure consists of the Montezuma Well and Big Smoky Valley claims areas which are prospective for large-scale sediment-hosted lithium claystone deposits hosted by the Siebert Formation.

West Cobar’s claims lie in the Silver Peak-TLC zone, which hosts the single biggest US lithium producer – Albemarle’s Silver Peak lithium-in-brines operation – and some of the largest US lithium in claystone resources.

“We have a number of exciting initiatives underway, each of which has the potential to fundamentally re-rate the value of the company,” managing director Matt Szwedzicki said.