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ABx confidence soars after Tasmanian rare earths test

Test work on rare earths from ABx Group’s Deep Leads project in northern Tasmania has strengthened the company’s belief that it hosts ionic adsorption clay-style, or “IAC” mineralisation. The deposits are known to be a major source of permanent magnet minerals and are used to develop super magnets for electric vehicles, wind turbines, mobile phones and computers.

According to the company, test results from the first half a dozen samples from Deep Leads underlined the deposits prospectivity with excellent extraction rates of up to 71 per cent under run-of-the mill desorption-style test conditions. ABx argues the stellar results indicate its material is amenable to low-acid and thus low-cost processing opportunities.

The analysis was completed by government agency Australian Nuclear Science and Technology Organisation or “ANSTO”. The powerhouse research institute has helped drive home some of the most prominent research and development solutions in the mineral industry and boasts extensive experience in bench-scale analysis of deposits of clay-style rare earths.

ANSTO examined a variety of mineralisation types from the Sydney-based company’s Deep Leads, Portrush and Windbreak deposits to better understand the parameters that influence rare earths extraction rates and critically, to ascertain whether Deep Leads hosts ionic adsorption clay mineralisation.

Management says whilst some clay-hosted rare earths deposits necessitate significantly more acid to extract the minerals, ABx tests proved its theory its portfolio contains lucrative processing options.

Interestingly, its solid extraction rates were achieved using ammonium sulphate at pH4, similar to the conditions used in China for ionic adsorption clay-type deposits.

China controls about 86 percent of global rare earths supply but has held off calls to increase output in response to rising demand for the in-vogue commodity.

Prices for super-magnet rare earth elements are at present on the rise because of a significant supply shortage and clients around the world have moved to snap up the material.

Super-magnet rare earths, particularly neodymium and praseodymium, are prominent across ABx’s northern Tasmanian grounds.

The company is still chipping away at a drilling program at Deep Leads, where about six channels of IAC mineralisation have been unveiled across an extensive path of dirt.

The desorption test results will be used to guide the drilling program and ABx expects to have assays from the campaign on deck soon.

According to the company, the ground around Deep Leads hosts an uncommon blend of clays, hard cap, slurries, gravels, sands and hard basement rock, that has led to the development of a new drilling technique known as “e-drill”.

Management believes the upshots have increased the likelihood that its rare earths deposits offer an appealing mix of high grades and low extraction costs — music to the ears of ABx followers.

Is your ASX-listed company doing something interesting? Contact: matt.birney@wanews.com.au

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