ABx Group eyes further resource growth at Deep Leads and Rubble Mounds Rare Earth Project, Tasmania

Rare earth element explorer ABx Group (ASX:ABX) is looking to expand its rare earth element (REE) resources through further drilling at its Deep Leads and Rubble Mound REE Project in Tasmania.

The $22.13 million market capitalisation company reports this drilling program will be conducted in August around hole RM302, which could be its ‘best’ prospect, as it indicates REE mineralisation could extend 16km to the Wind Break Discovery. Hole RM302 lies 5km northeast of Deep Leads, and is ‘highly enriched’ in permanent magnet rare earths, especially dysprosium and terbium.

Speaking to Mining.com.au today (31 July 2023) upon release of its June quarterly report, ABx Group Chief Executive Officer (CEO) and Managing Director Mark Cooksey says the company identified key areas of focus during Q2 2023.

“For ABx, it’s mainly about concluding the drilling program, getting all the assays done for that drilling program, and then upgrading the resource estimate based on all of that. We’ve got up to 27 million tonnes. That’s been steady increases from our earlier estimates during the quarter.

“We’re good at identifying what are the key things, what are the priorities we have to do to increase the value of our projects, so those things will be quite different in different situations”

We’re good at identifying what are the key things, what are the priorities we have to do to increase the value of our projects, so those things will be quite different in different situations.

For rare earths, it’s about expanding the resource, but also understanding what the project is going to look like, and speaking with customers. I think we’re good at prioritising what has to be done and then undertaking that work pretty efficiently. 

We’re still a pretty small team working on 2 major areas, rare earths and Alcore, and one legacy area bauxite, but we’re progressing them all very efficiently and cost-effectively.”

ABx is also progressing an exploration licence application covering a 16km extension from Deep Leads and Rubble Mound to Windbreak, expanding the REE target area from 35km-square to more than 100km-square.

During Q2 2023, the company delineated a Mineral Resource Estimate (MRE) for its Deep Leads-Rubble Mound project consisting of 21 million tonnes averaging 770 parts per million (ppm) Total Rare Earth Oxides (TREO) and 585ppm TREO-ceric oxide at a cut-off grade of 250ppm TREO-ceric oxide.

Post quarter end, this MRE was increased by a further to 27 million tonnes averaging 803ppm TREO and 603ppm TREO-ceric oxide and included all assay results from samples obtained during a drilling program completed from January to April 2023.

ABx also received a grant of up to $70,000 under Mineral Resources Tasmania’s Exploration Drilling Grant Initiative (EDGI) to complete drilling at Wind Break.

The company says the estimated area within the drilling boundary is 28km-square, of which assay results demonstrate 15km-square is mineralised above the cut-off grade, while the area covered by the 27 million tonnes MRE is 3.3km-square, representing 22% of the estimated mineralised area.

Throughout Q2 2023, ABx also received endorsements for its strategy of producing a mixed rare earth carbonate during market discussions with several potential customers. 

ABx reports its subsidiary Alcore received the second instalment of a $2.7 million grant under the Australian government’s Modern Manufacturing Initiative (MMI). Alcore also completed the preliminary engineering design for its pilot plant on the Central Coast in New South Wales.

Cooksey tells this news service Alcore is working on site preparations, including with contractors for civil and electrical infrastructure work, and with local authorities for all necessary permits and approvals, with commissioning for the pilot plant planned for March 2024.

“There’s significant installation, significant equipment and other peripherals, and so that design is almost finalised and we’re almost ready to place orders for all the key equipment. In parallel, we’ve also ordered, and it’s on track to be received shortly, an advanced version of a smaller reactor that we’ll be able to start testing in this quarter to improve the performance of the process.”

Alcore is developing a pilot plant facility in New South Wales that aims to produce hydrogen fluoride by recovering fluorine from excess bath.

ABx Group is an Australian rare earths element explorer focused on its Deep Leads and Rubble Mound Rare Earth Element Project in Tasmania, along with several bauxite projects across Tasmania, New South Wales, and Queensland.

The company had $5.89 million available cash at quarter-end.

Write to Harry Mulholland at Mining.com.au

Images: ABx Group Ltd
Written By Harry Mulholland
Hailing from the Central Coast region of NSW, Harry is a passionate journalist with a background in print, radio and ESG news. When not bashing away on his keyboard, he can be found brewing a coffee or playing with his dog.