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More rare earths hits for Australian Bauxite in Tasmania

Sydney-based Australian Bauxite has just uncovered the highest level of rare earth elements to date from its DL130 bauxite project in north-east Tasmania. The company says near-surface results returned from its ongoing drilling campaign at DL130 reveal strong enrichment of the super-magnet rare earth element, neodymium. Assays from the stand-out drill hole include 1m grading 145.8 parts per million neodymium, 34.55ppm dysprosium, 34.52ppm praseodymium and 5.55ppm terbium.

Neodymium is a critical strategic metal used in magnets installed in electric vehicle engines and other industrial motors such as wind turbines.

It is also used in smart phones and military electronics.

The latest encouraging ore sample in hole DL315 from 9 metres depth containing the highest neodymium reading is situated about 500m east of the next most neodymium-enriched sample in prior holes.

Elevated neodymium values in bauxite source rocks have now been encountered over an area of 500m by 500m so far and according to management, the mineralisation remains open in all directions.

Australian Bauxite interprets the bauxite source rocks to be deeply corroded and enriched in neodymium.

The company says continuing exploration programs at DL130 are targeting extensions to the 500m by 500m zone of source rocks that has been indicated by seven completed ore samples.

It is also investigating a much wider footprint and testing more structures.

We found rare earth elements enrichment in a widespread rock unit at the DL130 project, and early test work indications are that the rare earth elements are easily leached and could be concentrated at low cost, with no deleterious elements.

Australian Bauxite says it is specifically aiming to source a deposit type that can be quickly developed as an in-situ leaching project.

The company is on the hunt for an ionic adsorption clay-style of mineralisation, which is analogous with the ionic adsorption clay deposits that have produced rare earth elements in southern China by using simple leaching.

According to Australian Bauxite, any rare earth elements resource it can delineate in northern Tasmania will likely be water soluble, or ionic adsorption clay rare earth elements and amenable to rapid development.

Unlike southern China, however, Tasmania does not have rice paddies on top of its deposits and most exploration targets lie in hardwood plantations where the ground is fairly infertile due to bauxite formation.

In-situ leaching is widely employed in the US and has been carried out for uranium extraction at Heathgate Resources’ Beverley operation in South Australia without problems since 2001.

Australian Bauxite says its rare earth elements leaching would be much more benign.

With neodymium prices soaring in recent times, the company’s rare earth elements strategic segue appears well timed.

The market pushed up Australian Bauxite’s share price more than 13.5 per cent at one stage during trading today on news of the samples.

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

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