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Taruga bags prized clay rare earths deposit

After analysing samples enriched in high-value rare earth elements from its Morgan’s Creek prospect, Taruga Minerals has locked onto a highly-coveted ionic adsorption clay style of deposit. Traditionally, the explorer has focused on copper exploration at the Mt Craig project, however the rare earths revelation could add some serious value to the South Australian venture.

Typically a high concentration of readily soluble, weakly bound rare earths is a key feature of ionic adsorption clay rare earths deposits and in testing the Morgan’s Creek samples were off the charts.

High concentrations also allow for a simple metallurgical flow sheet and consequently are a critical factor in determining the economic viability of a rare earths deposit.

The analytical results indicated that in the clay zone an average recovery of 85 per cent of the total rare earth oxides, or TREO and 93 per cent of the high-value magnetic rare earth oxides is possible.

The weathered zone has the potential for an average recovery of 68 per cent TREO and 70 per cent magnetic rare earth oxides.

We are very encouraged by the results of this testwork which suggest a simple and low-cost metallurgical flowsheet could be applied to extract the rare earth elements present at Morgan’s Creek……..The presence of high value magnetic rare earths complements our strong copper portfolio extremely well and aligns Taruga perfectly with the growing demand for electric vehicles and renewable green technologies.

Management says the results add confidence to its pursuit of rare earths as it looks to conduct its first, fully-funded and targeted exploration program.

The Morgan’s Creek exploration work will include processing and interpretation of geophysical and geochemical data to identify new target areas, infill soil and auger samples in addition to shallow RC drill testing.

Significant intercepts from Taruga’s 2021 RC drilling at Morgan’s Creek include a 6m hit going 1210 parts per million TREO from a shallow 9m along with a broader 22m running 1050ppm TREO from 27m.

Among others, another high-grade strike of 3m at 1715ppm TREO from 39m was encountered.

Ionic adsorption clay deposits are an important source of heavy, critical and magnetic rare earths.

A 2013 study published in the Environment Development scientific journal estimated the style accounted for about 35 per cent of China’s total rare earths production.

China has long held a strategic stranglehold on the important class of elements as the US Geological Survey says the eastern superpower has produced an incredible 87 per cent of the world’s total rare earths to date.

Despite the low grade of ionic adsorption clay deposits, they garner serious attention for their low mining and processing costs.

The minerals are critical components of renewable and green technologies including wind turbines and are set to play an important role in the ongoing clean energy transition.

Morgan’s Creek is just one prospect within the company’s broader Mt Craig copper project within South Australia’s highly prospective Adelaide Fold Belt.

The belt has played host to more than 800 historical copper mines in addition to multiple polymetallic mines since the 1840s.

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

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