Summit breaks into Brazilian niobium, rare earths

Summit Minerals (ASX:SUM) has struck a binding deal to acquire a portfolio of niobium, rare earth elements (REE) and lithium projects in Brazil, which has the world’s largest reserves of niobium. 

Originally focused on Canada, Summit is now adding the Juazeirinho niobium-REE, Equador niobium-REE, Aratapira REE, Santa Sousa REE, T1/T2 REE and Hercules North and South lithium projects in Brazil’s mineral-rich Minas Gerais and Paraiba regions to its stable.

Brazil accounts for around 98% of global niobium reserves. 

Managing Director Gower He believes the company’s expansion into Brazil will enhance Summit’s status as a critical mineral explorer and developer. 

“Over the last few months, we have assessed many options for project acquisition and have chosen these highly prospective and large-scale projects within the established mining-friendly jurisdiction of Brazil,” he says.

“Additionally, Brazil, being a relatively geopolitically neutral jurisdiction, should provide us with unrestricted access to global off-take and funding options, giving our projects the best chance of success within the macro environment.”

Niobium is a cheaper additive to make steel stronger. Very small amounts of niobium can make the steel used in construction twice as strong and more resistant to cracking. 

The metal is traditionally used in high-quality steel manufacturing for construction and machinery, and super alloys used in the aerospace and oil and gas industries. But it is also increasingly favoured as an alternative to cobalt in electric vehicle batteries to boost range and stability. 

Summit has signed binding term sheets with vendors RTB Geologia & Mineracao Ltda, Sandro Arruda Silva Ltda and Mineracao Paranal Ltda for full ownership of the projects. 

He says expansive exploration plans are already being planned, with the company looking to rapidly develop the projects. 

“In addition to some of the strong historical grades, we received great observational reports from our recently completed on-site DD, from which we await rock chip and soil assay results.”

Summit reports grades of up to 35.54% niobium and 1.408% partial rare earth oxide (PREO) from Juazeirinho and 30.34% niobium and 1.513% PREO from Equador, resulting from produced concentrates from pegmatite and sediment samples at the projects. 

Several lithium-caesium-tantalum (LCT) pegmatite bodies have also been identified at Juazeirinho and Equador, which Summit says show good potential for columbite/tantalite and lithium, as well as significant concentrations of niobium.

The Hercules North and South projects are located near numerous artisanal mines where, according to Summit, large LCT pegmatites have been identified that produced beryl, aquamarine, and spodumene in economic quantities.

Summit says the prominent artisanal surface mining across all projects provides priority drill targets for deeper-level pegmatite-related mineralisation. 

Write to Angela East at Mining.com.au 

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Written By Angela East
Managing Editor Angela East is an experienced business journalist and editor with over 15 years spent covering the resources and construction sectors and more recently working as a communications specialist handling media relations for junior resources companies.