ABx Group grows MRE by 30% at Deep Leads and Rubble Mound REE Project in Tasmania

Sydney-based explorer ABx Group (ASX:ABX) has increased the Mineral Resource Estimate (MRE) at its Deep Leads and Rubble Mound Rare Earth Element Project in Tasmania by 30% to 27 million tonnes.

The $22.35 million market capitalisation company reports the MRE was increased by the results of 36 drillholes that discovered new deposits and subsequently increased the potential for mineralisation to extend over 16km to the Wind Break discovery.

The total MRE for Deep Leads and Rubble Mound now stands at 27 million tonnes @ 803 parts per million (ppm) Total Rare Earth Oxides (TREO), 603ppm TREO-cerium oxide, and 196ppm permanent magnet REEs. This MRE covers 22% of the prospect area.

ABx Chief Executive Officer (CEO) and Managing Director Dr Mark Cooksey will be presenting at 3:40pm on day 1 of the Noosa Mining Investor Conference beginning tomorrow (19 July 2023).

ABx reports exploration activity at the project has increased the target area from 35km-square to over 100km-square, which also encompasses the Wind Break discovery.

Subject to a new exploration licence application being granted, ABx will begin ground exploration in the area, which is expected to lead to exploration drilling programs in the coming months. The company is also being more selective and targeted in the types of deposits it will drill test.

ABx considers hole RM302, which intersected 11m @ 1,717ppm TREO from 2m, to be one of the best REE intercepts to date. This hole is located at the northeastern point of the first-pass drill coverage. The company says this hole is the first of several similar prospects identified in the northeast and around Wind Break. 

Within the updated MRE, the company says permanent magnet REEs, including niobium, praseodymium, dysprosium, and terbium, represent more than 90% of the total REE market value.

Dysprosium and terbium are considered particularly valuable as they are almost exclusively supplied from ionic-adsorption clay (IAC) REE deposits. The dysprosium-terbium/TREO of the resource is 4.3%, which ABx says is one of the ‘highest’ reported ratios for any IAC REE deposit.

Commenting on the updated MRE, Cooksey says: “The 30% increase in the inferred mineral resources arises from the latest 36 holes that were our furthest step-out drillholes. 69% of the holes returned resource grade assays, which is above average for such wide-spaced scout drilling in new areas.

Our northernmost discovery hole, RM302, located 5km northeast of Deep Leads, could become our best prospect because it is 11m thick and enriched in permanent magnet rare earths, especially dysprosium and terbium.

These are highly valuable rare earths and almost exclusively produced from IAC deposits. Hole RM302 also indicates that this IAC rare earth mineralisation could extend 16km to the Wind Break discovery in our new exploration licence application.

In addition, it is important to note that the cost of extracting rare earths from IAC deposits is highly dependent on the desorption process conditions. Standard desorption conditions include 30 minutes at pH4.

The ABx deposits have the highest reported extractions under these conditions for any IAC rare earth resource in Australia”

The ABx deposits have the highest reported extractions under these conditions for any IAC rare earth resource in Australia. For other deposits requiring more acidic conditions, the production cost is likely to be substantially higher. Not all clays are created equal, and very few clay-hosted REE deposits globally are amenable to low-cost benign production methods.”

ABx Group is a Sydney-based explorer aiming to create an IAC REE project in Tasmania, establish a plant to produce hydrogen and aluminium fluoride from recycled industrial waste through its 83% owned subsidiary Alcore, and mine bauxite resources for use in cement, aluminium, and fertilisers.

Along with Deep Leads and Rubble Mound, the company also holds the Sunrise Project in Queensland and the Penrose Project in New South Wales. On 28 June 2023, ABx subsidiary Alcore received a second instalment of the Federal government’s Modern Manufacturing Initiative (MMI) grant scheme totalling $2.7 million.

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.