Vital Metals Ltd (ASX: VML) has reported outstanding first-pass assay results including 31.8m at 4.35% TREO from 11.5m including 6.9m at 13.78% TREO from Tardiff Zone 1 within its Nechalacho Rare Earth Project in Northwest Territories, Canada.
The company reported that large intersections of total rare earth oxides (TREO) grades above 2% TREO were intersected at Tardiff Zone 1 with all holes hitting mineralisation.
VML reported that thicknesses in excess of 60m in width and with grades up to 13.8% intersected, demonstrating the world-class potential of the Nechalacho rare earth deposit.
Other standout results from Zone 1 included 60.9m at 1.92% TREO from 11.4m; 40m at 2.54% TREO from 16m; and 13m at 3.12% TREO from 36m including 4m at 7.06% TREO.
The company said that high-value Nd/Pr content of rare earths was estimated at an impressive level of 24.2% TREO. VML said that Zone 1 remains open in all directions with the highest-grade hits on southern margins of current drilling.
Vital Metals noted that all intersections were under shallow cover (10m) and contained within 75m of surface. The company said that mineralisation appears to be associated with bastnasite with metallurgical test work underway.
VML reported that the results will form part of the new resource upgrade to be part of Stage 2 Expansion Plans at Nechalacho.
The Nechalacho rare earth project consists of two distinct deposits, North T and Upper Zone.
The North T deposit hosts a high-grade resource of 101,000 tonnes at 9.01% light rare earth oxides (LREO) in the measured and indicated JORC 2012 categories, making it one of the highest-grade rare earth deposits in the world.
The second deposit, the Upper Zone, contains an LREO resource of 94.7 million tonnes at 1.46% TREO in the measured, indicated, and inferred JORC 2012 categories. The Upper Zone contains 3 high-grade REO zones previously identified in wide spaced historic drilling by Avalon Materials Inc. These zones are known as Tardiff Zones 1, 2, and 3.
Two-stage development plan
The company plans to develop the Nechalacho rare earth project over two stages. Stage 1 is currently underway with the initial development of North T Zone. Vital Metals then plans to expand with the development of Stage 2 which involves the development of the Upper Zone.
Drilling at Tardiff Zones
The company had recently commenced 2021 drilling program at the Tardiff Zones to upgrade the resource so that mining and processing studies can be carried out.
VML said that the Tardiff Zones 1 and 3 were drilled on a close spacing (25m x 25m) to enable their resource confidence levels to be upgraded so mining and processing studies can be carried out on these zones. The drilling at Tardiff Zone 2 was designed to get a better understanding of high grade REO mineralisation that is not currently in the resource estimation released in 2019. All drill holes were drilled to a maximum depth of 72m vertical.
High-grade results from Tardiff Zone 1
The Tardiff Zone 1 is a higher-grade bastnasite rich area within the Upper Zone targeted by the 2021 drilling program.
VML said that the close spaced drilling at Zone 1 has defined a strong zone of higher grade REO mineralisation with wide intersections greater than 2% TREO.
Vital said that the higher-grade mineralisation in Zone 1 has been drilled on a 25m grid over a distance of 300m x 100m is open in all directions. More importantly, the highest grades were intersected on the most northern and southern sections.
Best results from Zone 1 included 31.8m at 4.35% TREO from 11.5m including 6.9m at 13.78% TREO; 60.9m at 1.92% TREO from 11.4m; 40m at 2.54% TREO from 16m; 25.8m at 2.56% TREO from 15.3m; and s13m at 3.12% TREO from 36m including 4m at 7.06% TREO.
Selected high-grade intervals in the Bastnaesite Subzone are as shown below.
Latest updates and next steps
Vital Metals said that it will now await the results from Tardiff Zones 2 and 3 before collating the results in an upgraded resource estimate. The company said that part of the samples will be used in ongoing metallurgical testwork which will feed into the Stage 2 expansion feasibility study.
VML noted that the higher-grade REO mineralisation is open to the north and south of the close spaced drilling. It is recommended a section of drillholes 25 metres to the north and another section of holes 25 metres to the south be drilled.
The first results of this drilling program have exceeded our expectations
Vital Metals Managing Director Geoff Atkins said: “The first results of this drilling program have exceeded our expectations of the higher grade bastnasite dominated rare earth zones in the Tardiff Zone.
The scale of the Tardiff sets the foundations for expansion of works at Nechalacho into stage 2 of our plans. With mining activities currently underway at Stage 1, the results of this drilling program confirm the enormous potential for Tardiff Zone 1 to be the foundation of our Stage 2 expansion plans.
The potential of this deposit is particularly exciting with the deposit remaining open in all directions, with the drilling program’s highest grade and largest intercepts being located along an open boundary. Further with intercept grades that would be the envy of rare earth projects around the world, these results confirm the status of Nechalacho amongst the world’s rare earth deposits.”
Image Source: Vital Metals Ltd