ASX-listed Mount Ridley Mines has launched a four-stage drilling program at its namesake rare earths project near Esperance in Western Australia. The company is seeking to confirm a significant deposit with the campaign designed to lift the veil on the degree of mineralisation across the 3,400 square kilometre tenure that was previously probed between 2014-2016.
Mount Ridley is aiming to complete a maiden mineral resource estimate at the project this year and says its focus will be on homing in on high priority target areas to move the needle forward.
The company says the drill program is intended to avoid agricultural terrain, make use of existing cleared tracks and to avoid zones deemed unlikely to hold significant rare earth mineralisation.
The program’s first stage is already underway at the high priority Winston’s prospect, with aircore holes being completed on a 400 x 200 metre grid.
Mount Ridley says the holes with considerable mineralisation will eventually be infilled to form a 200 x 200m pattern and the core pulled from the holes will be metallurgically assessed to assist in its mineral resource estimate.
Stage two is a regional play that will make use of the existing network of tracks, grids and firebreaks. Aircore drilling will be completed with wide-spaced reconnaissance holes to quickly map the extent of rare earths mineralisation and sniff out higher-grade internal zones.
The company says a 950-hole program of work has already been approved for the second stage of the drilling campaign.
Stage three will see the company complete drilling across the flanks of defined mineralisation to expand its primary targets. Mount Ridley has a heritage management plan in place and is preparing a clearing permit for a 180 square kilometre region to accommodate the work.
According to the explorer, previous intersections notched within the stage three ground delivered rare earth hits that ran more than 10m in length and called for a second look. The fourth and final stage will be a resource drill out.
According to management, comparable ionic clay-hosted rare earths projects have been drilled out on the same pattern and the move could support the delivery of an indicated mineral resources estimate.
Mount Ridley says it will look to utilise an independent geological expert to advise on the project’s final stage and to integrate historical data and the results of the previous stages upon its completion.
The Company is well funded and has committed to rapidly exploring the project for rare earth elements through substantial but judicious drilling programs executed in a staged approach. The aim of the drilling stages proposed is to outline a rare earth element project of significant scale.
The project is thought to host a significant amount of critical rare earths however it was originally drilled for nickel in 2015. An evaluation of over a thousand samples from prior air core work displayed elevated quantities of rare earths, giving rise to the project’s evolution.
According to the company, the mineralisation at the project is evident across an expansive 25km by 3km area that encouragingly, remains open in all directions.
Remarkably, the stretch of land drilled to-date speaks for only 2 per cent of the project’s total size fuelling the belief a monster rare earth deposit could lie within the ground’s tenure. Mount Ridley’s expansive plan appears to show its commitment to unearth the extent of what lies beneath.
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