Athena Resources (ASX:AHN) has outlined several ‘high-priority’ rare earth element (REE) anomalies at its Byro Project in Western Australia as it prepares for a maiden drilling program in the area.
The company sent 1,020 soil samples from the Milly Milly prospect in the project area to Australian Laboratory Services (ALS) for multi-element analysis and says the results show ‘highly significant’ REE anomalies.
Specifically, these anomalies showed a peak value of 888 parts per million (ppm) total rare earth oxides (TREO), with a handful showing high percentages of magnetic rare earths elements (MREO) and neodymium plus praseodymium (NdPr).
Three of the samples that graded higher than 300ppm TREO have strike lengths of more than 2km.
Athena says the top 33 samples, which showed TREOs of more than 350ppm, had an average MREO to TREO percentage of 37%. Further, the NdPr to TREO ratio topped 32%. According to the company, this ‘highly encouraging’ data indicates the potential for the Milly Milly prospect to yield significant anomalies as targets for drilling.
In this vein, Athena will now verify the results through further fieldwork and map the most anomalous targets, with infill geochemical sampling and rock chip sampling to follow where outcrop is available.
All this comes as the company gears up for a targeted REE drilling campaign at Byro.
Further to the new REE discovery, Athena says the Milly Milly intrusion has previously shown ‘significant’ nickel and copper mineralisation, targeted both by the company and by previous explorers.
The new soil sampling work has shown extensions to previous base metal soil anomalies, especially in the southern ‘tail’ region, which could represent the feeder zone into the system.
Athena says ‘strong’ nickel anomalies occur in the prospect area in a linear trend along the southeastern contact, and copper anomalies appear more widely dispersed and sporadic, with a peak value of 152ppm copper.
The company carried out its soil sampling work on a 400m-by-100m grid spacing, covering the majority of tenement E09/1607. This work followed a 2023 assessment of previous drilling at the Byro project, which identified multiple ‘strong’ zones of REE pathfinder elements such as cerium, yttrium, lanthanum, and scandium.
However, Athena says its soil sampling work was the first-ever geochemical program specifically targeting REE mineralisation in the history of the project.
Write to Joshua Smith at Mining.com.au
Images: Athena Resources