Rare earth elements frequently appear on strategic mineral lists, and governments around the world are backing these commodities as a matter of national interest and protecting sovereign risks.
Over the past 40 years of technological advancement, rare earth elements (REEs) have become an integral part of a wide and growing number of applications due to their metallurgical, magnetic and electrical properties.
The lustrous silver-white metal underpins the tech industry and is integral to computing and audiovisual equipment, but is also widely used in automotive industry alloys, glassware, medical imaging and even petroleum refining.
According to Geoscience Australia, the 17 metals classified as rare earth elements, including elements such as lanthanum, praseodymium, neodymium, promethium, dysprosium and yttrium, are not particularly rare, but extraction and processing make them difficult to obtain on a commercial scale .
Since the 1980s, China has been the world's largest producer of rare earth elements, surpassing early resource countries such as Brazil, India and the United States, which were key components of the widespread use of rare earth elements after the advent of color televisions .
Like battery metals, rare earth stocks have seen a recent boom for reasons including:
Rare earth elements are considered critical or strategic minerals, and governments around the world are increasing protection of these commodities as a matter of national interest.The Australian Government's Critical Minerals Strategy is an example.
Australian rare earth miners had a busy March quarter.Here, we look at what they're doing -- where -- and how they're performing.
Kingfisher Mining Ltd (ASX:KFM) has discovered significant rare earth elements at its Mick Well project in the Gascoyne region of Washington State, with 12 meters of rare earth oxides (TREO) totaling 1.12%, of which 4 meters of rare earth The total amount of oxides was 1.84%.
Follow-up drilling at the MW2 prospect is scheduled to begin after the quarter, targeting additional REE targets within the 54km corridor.
The western extension of the REE target corridor was awarded tenements just after the quarter ended, a significant step ahead of planned aeromagnetic and radiometric surveys designed for the area.
The company also received previous drilling results at Mick Well in March, including 4m at 0.27% TREO, 4m at 0.18% TREO and 4m at 0.17% TREO.
Fieldwork is promising, identifying an initial set of seven carbonatite intrusions known to be associated with REE mineralization.
During the March quarter, Strategic Materials Australia Ltd. completed construction of the buildings and facilities at the Korea Metal Works (KMP), which was officially registered.
Installation and commissioning of the first phase of KMP will continue during the quarter, with an installed capacity of 2,200 tonnes per annum.
ASM remains committed to advancing the financing of the Dubbo project.During the quarter, a letter of intent from Korean trade insurer K-Sure was received to provide ASM with potential export credit insurance support to fund the development of the project.
Following an optimisation study carried out in December last year, the company submitted a modification report to the Dubbo project to the NSW government, which included proposed planning and design improvements.
Board changes during the quarter included the retirement of long-serving non-executive director Ian Chalmers, whose leadership was key to Project Dubbo, and welcomed the Kerry Gleeson FAICD.
Arafura Resources Ltd believes its Nolans project is highly aligned with the federal government's 2022 critical minerals strategy and budget plan, citing the continued rise in neodymium and praseodymium (NdPr) prices during the quarter, which provides confidence in project economics.
The company is reaching out to Korean customers looking to secure long-term strategic supplies of NdPr and has signed a joint statement of cooperation with Korea Mine Remediation and Mineral Resources Corporation.
During the quarter, the company announced the appointment of Societe Generale and NAB as mandated lead arrangers to execute an export credit agency-driven debt financing strategy.It reported a strong cash position of $33.5 million to continue front-end engineering (FEED) with supplier Hatch as per Arafura's schedule.
The company hopes a $30 million grant under the government's Modern Manufacturing Initiative will help build the rare earth separation plant at the Nolan project.
Field work at PVW Resources Ltd's (ASX:PVW) Tanami Gold and Rare Earth Elements (REE) project has been hampered by the wet season and a high local number of COVID cases, but the exploration team has taken time to focus on mineralogy findings, metallurgical test work and 2022 Planning of the annual exploration drilling program.
Highlights of the quarter included five metallurgical samples weighing up to 20 kg returning strong surface mineralization with up to 8.43% TREO and metallurgical samples averaging 80% heavy rare earth oxide (HREO) percentage, including an average of 2,990 parts per million (ppm) Dysprosium oxide and up to 5,795ppm of dysprosium oxide.
Both ore sorting and magnetic separation tests were successful in raising the rare earth grade of the samples while rejecting a large number of samples, indicating potential savings in downstream processing costs.
The initial phase of the 2022 drilling program is 10,000 meters of reverse circulation (RC) drilling and 25,000 meters of hollow core drilling.The plan will also include further ground reconnaissance work to track other targets.
Northern Minerals Ltd (ASX:NTU) concluded a strategic review in the March quarter, concluding that the production and sale of mixed heavy rare earth concentrates from the proposed Browns Range commercial-scale processing plant is its preferred near-term strategy .
Further drill analysis returned during the quarter showed prospects for the Zero, Banshee and Rockslider prospects, with results including:
Krakatoa Resources Ltd (ASX:KTA) has been busy at the Mt Clere project in Yilgarn Craton, Western Australia, which the company believes contains a significant REE opportunity.
In particular, rare earth elements are thought to be present in previously identified widespread monazite sands concentrated in drainage networks of northern tenure, and in deeply weathered laterite sections that are widely preserved in gneiss development ion adsorption in clay.
REE-rich carbonate rocks associated with the neighbouring province of Mt Gould Alkaline also have potential.
The company has secured significant new land titles of 2,241 square kilometers at the Rand project, which it believes is expected to host REEs in clay regolith similar to those found at the Rand Bullseye prospect.
The company ended the quarter with a cash position of $730,000 and closed a $5 million funding round led by Alto Capital after the quarter.
This quarter, American Rare Earths Ltd (ASX:ARR) partnered with leading US research organisations to focus on new technologies for sustainable, bio-based extraction, separation and purification of rare earths.
Continuing to add 170 million tonnes of JORC resources as planned at the company's flagship project La Paz, where drilling licenses have been approved for the project's new southwest area with an estimated target of 742 to 928 million tonnes, 350 to 400 TREO, which is a complement to the existing Supplement to JORC resources.
Meanwhile, the Halleck Creek project is expected to contain more resources than La Paz.About 308 to 385 million tonnes of REE mineralized rock were identified as exploration targets, with average TREO grades ranging from 2,330 ppm to 2912 ppm.Licenses have been approved and drilling began in March 2022, with drilling results expected in June 2022.
American Rare Earths ended the quarter with a cash balance of $8,293,340 and held 4 million Cobalt Blue Holdings shares valued at approximately $3.36 million.
Board changes include the appointment of Richard Hudson and Sten Gustafson (US) as non-executive directors, while Noel Whitcher, the company's chief financial officer, has been appointed as company secretary.
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Post time: May-24-2022