Junior explorer MTM Critical Minerals (ASX:MTM) has reported ‘encouraging’ beneficiation results for rare earth element (REE) clays from its Point Kidman prospect within its East Laverton project in Western Australia.
This metallurgical work comes ahead of some further planned drilling in the prospect area, with only a small portion of the more-than-200km-square prospective area drill tested so far.
MTM says it spotted the critical minerals prospectivity of the area thanks to recent geochemical soil sampling work.
Target generation for the next drill campaign is currently underway, and MTM also plans to continue with its metallurgical testwork as it plans its next phase of exploration.
Metallurgical tests so far have shown that by selectively removing coarse particles from the Point Kidman clay samples, MTM can increase its total REE (TREE) and higher-value magnet REE (MREE) grades, as well as bring average TREE recoveries up to 76% in samples less than 106 microns in size.
Further, in the finest fraction of less than 20 microns, MTM was able to produce a 100% upgrade in TREE head grade assays and a 75% upgrade in MREE head grade assays, with the best result showing a 132% increase in TREE from 3,071 parts per million (ppm) to 7,120 ppm.
Effectively, these results indicate that the majority of REEs can be recovered in fine fractions, suggesting that a simple beneficiation process may allow for a ‘substantial’ reduction in waste process and reduced reagent consumption in MTM’s future processing plant design.
MTM Managing Director Lachlan Reynolds says the tests mark a ‘major step forward’ in proving the economic viability of the East Laverton deposit.
“We are very pleased to see that simple beneficiation can achieve up to 100% uplift in rare earth grades, including the valuable magnet rare earth elements such as neodymium and praseodymium.
Further testwork is required, particularly with respect to the leaching of the mineralisation, but as our exploration is defining a substantial district-scale development of shallow rare earth element mineralisation, these results are important for our strategy of resource discovery and delineation.”
“these results are important for our strategy of resource discovery and delineation”
MTM says its preliminary metallurgical recoveries so far compare ‘favourably’ to other known clay-hosted REE deposits in Western Australia.
Alongside its East Laverton project, MTM also owns the Mt Monger Gold Project and the Ravensthorpe REE Project in Western Australia, as well as the Pomme REE-Niobium Project in Quebec, Canada.
MTM Critical Minerals had $880,000 in cash and cash equivalents at hand as of 30 September, according to its latest quarterly report.
Write to Joshua Smith at Mining.com.au
Images: MTM Critical Minerals