Perth miner Northern Minerals Limited (ASX: NTU) has announced new heavy rare earths targets following exploration drilling at the Banshee, Rockslider and Cyclops prospects within its Browns Range project in Western Australia.
Handheld pXRF analysis of drill core has returned highly anomalous yttrium readings from Rockslider and Banshee South, indicating a relatively wide mineralised zone. Complete assay results, confirming Total Rare Earth Oxide percentages are expected to begin arriving in early September 2021.
The reverse circulation drill program commenced in July 2021 and was designed to follow up on results from a previous round of drilling in late 2020. To date, Northern Minerals has completed 120 holes for a total of 8,700m. A further 8,000m of drilling is set to commence later in September 2021 at both prospects, which are located within 15km of the Browns Range processing plant.
Preliminary results from Rockslider and Banshee South point to success
Initial results from preliminary pXRF data show that the Banshee prospect is larger than initially anticipated, with Banshee, Banshee West and Banshee South combining to form a larger overall mineralised system.
Infill RC drilling is planned to test ground between the prospect areas, with the possibility of defining a combined JORC 2012 mineral resource.
Rockslider, located adjacent to Banshee, was identified via airborne radiometrics and has now been tested with four RC holes totalling 444m. All four holes encountered elevated pXRF yttrium readings over intervals up to 36m in length.
Further RC drilling at Rockslider is expected once rigs have finalised work at Banshee.
“The Browns Range Dome is an amazingly rich, resource filled area, that holds the key to Northern Minerals’ current and future growth”
So what the heck is yttrium anyway?
The 39th element, yttrium is a soft, silvery heavy rare earth which is used for a number of key purposes including strengthening aluminium and magnesium alloys, deoxidising non-ferrous metals including vanadium, microwave filters, LEDs, red phosphors for television screens, precision medical needles and the high-temperature superconductor YBCO.
Production of the metal is tightly controlled by China, which accounted for 99% of total global output in 2013.
Northern Minerals CEO Mark Tory said: “The field pXRF results are highly encouraging and we eagerly await confirmatory TREO assay results. The Browns Range Dome is an amazingly rich, resource filled area, that holds the key to Northern Minerals’ current and future growth. Our overall strategy remains to increase the Mineral Resource and life-of-mine potential at Browns Range to more than 10 years. This will feed into our feasibility study for a potential commercial scale heavy rare earth operation at Browns Range.”
Images: Northern Minerals Limited