ABx Group emerging as the next ionic adsorption clay rare earths producer ‘hiding in plain sight’

ABx Group (ASX:ABX) has been “hiding in plain sight” despite being on track to becoming a globally significant Ionic Adsorption Clay (IAC) rare earths producer outside of China.

In an analyst report released this week, Corporate Connect Research has initiated coverage on ABx Group at a valuation of $0.33 per share. The $22.35 million market capitalisation company’s share price was trading at $0.10 a share as of 2pm AEST.

Speaking to Mining.com.au on the sidelines of the Resources Rising Stars conference on the Gold Coast yesterday (17 May 2023), ABx Managing Director and CEO Mark Cooksey says the company is well-positioned to cater for surging global demand.

“China dominates the market and there’s only really one big player that’s a producer outside of China, which is Lynas Resources. What’s changing now is that projected demand growth is significant. 

“We’re going to a renewable economy and electric cars are taking off, wind turbines are taking off, and the magnets are essential for that”

We’re going to a renewable economy and electric cars are taking off, wind turbines are taking off, and the magnets are essential for that. “Now, demand is predicted to grow at 8% a year and there is no way the existing supply will meet that.”

Cooksey says demand for REEs is driven by the renewable energy transition and the demand for permanent magnets. The Deep Leads Project is enriched in the 4 rare earths used in magnet manufacturing – which Corporate Connect Research says means the basket price is poised to be considerably higher than many of its peers.

The CEO tells this news service that “not all clays are created equal” and while REEs in clays are an emerging exploration target, very few deposits globally are confirmed as ionic adsorption clay REE mineralisation that are amenable to low-cost benign production methods.

He says therefore there is lots of room for new to players such as ABx to fill that gap.

ABx on 8 May announced its Mineral Resource Estimate (MRE) exceeds the 20 million tonne resource milestone for the rare earth elements (REE) deposit at the Deep Leads – Rubble Mound Project in northern Tasmania. Corporate Connect Research reports the company has been upgrading the drilling program to delineate further resources, achieving a 500% increase to the MRE in under 5 months.

According to Corporate Connect Research, ABx’s Australia’s Nuclear Science and Technology Organisation (ANSTO) testing of its Deep Leads samples demonstrated that REE can be extracted under low cost/low acid conditions, paving the way for the consideration of a simple desorption process as seen for the major IAC projects in China.

Corporate Connect Research adds that growth in the mineral resource is progressing quickly and consistently with about 80% of the prospect yet to be assessed. Additionally, the application for an exploration lease between the Deep Leads and Wind Break deposit opens the possibility of a prospect size of over 13km in length.

Initial testing by ANSTO of 70 bulk samples from the Deep Leads deposit gave an average extraction rate of 40% at pH4. This outcome clearly shows the potential of the resource to be a commercial IAC project using simple low acid desorption techniques for the extraction of Mixed Rare Earth Concentrates.

Corporate Connect Research’s report models a 1 million tonnes per annum rare earth desorption project based on a resource of 20 million tonnes,

ABx Group is currently progressing 3 businesses, including discovering and developing an ionic adsorption clay rare earth project in northern Tasmania.

It is establishing a plant to produce hydrogen fluoride and aluminium fluoride from recycled industrial waste to replace imports (Alcore), and mining and enhancing bauxite resources for the cement, aluminium and fertiliser industries.

Alcore, which is 83% owned by ABx, is a refining technology to make hydrogen fluoride and aluminium fluoride. It is home to the proprietary chemical engineering process that produces hydrogen fluoride from aluminium smelter waste. The company is now in the final stages of developing a pilot plant, which will be constructed on the Central Coast of NSW.

Write to Adam Orlando at Mining.com.au

Images: ABx Group Ltd
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Written By Adam Orlando
Mining.com.au Editor-in-Chief Adam Orlando has more than 20 years’ experience in the media having held senior roles at various publications, including as Asia-Pacific Sector Head (Mining) at global newswire Acuris (formerly Mergermarket). Orlando has worked in newsrooms around the world including Hong Kong, Singapore, London, and Sydney.