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Mount Ridley launches rare earth hunt in southern WA

The date of: 2021-07-02
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source:The west Australian
Mount Ridley Mines is ramping up exploration across its namesake project in the southern Goldfields of Western Australia. The company’s evaluation of its extensive ground-holdings in the region has highlighted its potential to host shallow, clay-hosted rare earth element, or “REE” deposits, with nearby explorers being rewarded with considerable success.
REEs have in recent years once again shot to the fore on the back of rising demand from the burgeoning electric vehicle market and the listing of speciality metals as “critical” to future development by a rash of industrialised countries. REEs are used in a growing number of technological and military applications, particularly in the manufacture of sophisticated magnets.
Currently China accounts for more than 72 per cent of the world’s annual REE production, however more importantly it holds over 90 per cent of global processing capacity with the emerging industrial giant increasingly retaining much of that production for domestic use.
Australia has in recent years become the world’s second largest producer, accounting for 11 per cent of the market whilst the US is close behind at 9 per cent. Much of Australia’s light REE production comes courtesy of the Mt Weld deposit north of Kalgoorlie whilst Northern Minerals Brown’s Range deposit in WA’s Kimberley region is now ramping up to become the largest producer of heavy REE outside China.
Interestingly, whilst Australia’s REE accumulations are predominantly hosted in hard rock deposits, most of China’s production comes from the rich ionic adsorption clays, or “IAC” in the south of the country. It is this style of deposit that Mount Ridley is targeting in WA.
The company has now put its foot on more than 3,400sq.km in WA’s southern Goldfields region, with its tenure stretching across more than 60km of strike from east of Salmon Gums in the north to the town of Gibson in the south.
Mount Ridley’s program also has likely been triggered by the success of other explorers in the region. Salazar Gold has made the Splinter IAC REE discovery to the north-east of Mount Ridley’s project, whilst ASX-Listed EMetals owns the Cowalinya project immediately north of the company’s ground.
EMetals has recently completed reconnaissance drilling across its tenure in response to anomalous levels of REE in shallow auger drilling, providing an incentive for Mount Ridley to take a closer look at the potential of its own ground.
The company has now retrieved the sample residues from previous drilling across its tenure and has submitted these samples to its laboratory for re-assay, specifically looking for anomalous levels of REE mineralisation not included in the historical assay suite. Results of this assaying may assist in a rapid acceleration of exploration across Mount Ridley’s extensive tenure and help target future drilling.
In anticipation of an escalation of activity, the company has completed a $981,138 placement to professional investors that will be used to fund the developing REE program, as Mount Ridley also continues its iron ore exploration at Weld Range in WA’s Murchison region.
With Australia rapidly become a global disruptor in the REE market and the likes of Northern Minerals and Hastings Technology Metals advancing their operations in WA, Mount Ridley may have an eye on becoming the next player in this exclusive space as a host of explorers and developers race to fill the growing supply gap in this evolving and lucrative market.
The company expects results from its current assaying program to be available in the coming weeks and with a bag full of cash will launch into field work soon after.



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