Australian Rare Earths (ASX:AR3) secures $771k rebate for Koppamurra R&D

Australian Rare Earths (ASX:AR3) secures $771k rebate for Koppamurra R&D

February 16, 2024 Off By Jack Baker

Australian Rare Earths has received a $771,000 cash rebate from the Australian Government for research and development into metallurgy of its large-scale clay-hosted Koppamurra rare earth project in South Australia.

The explorer is undertaking extensive metallurgical work on the project, a key aspect of unlocking commercialisation and production from one of the largest ionic clay-hosted rare earth provinces in the nation.

China built its sector dominance around the easily extractable deposits, with the Red Dragon’s bans on rare earth extraction and separation technologies having significant implications for western nations’ economic and national security.

The federal government’s Critical Minerals Strategy holds the objectives of building a diverse, resilient, sustainable supply chain, building sovereign processing capability, and extracting value from its onshore resources.

Australian Rare Earths see this grant of validation of the innovative and important work it is doing toward those ends.

The Australian industry has largely been built around hard-rock carbonatite deposits, but mining the true ionic-adsorption clay deposits which can deliver high recoveries through benign low-cost processing are increasingly viewed as the real prize.

Accelerating discovery, extraction, and processing from the deposits is a key focus for the ANSTO – Australian Nuclear Science and Technology Organisation’s – Minerals unit, which has just been provided $13.9 million in funding under the Australian Critical Minerals Research and Development Hub hosted by CSIRO.

ANSTO Chief Executive Officer Shaun Jenkinson said the federal nuclear organisation’s extensive experience working with the elements had helped to unlock Australia’s lower grade deposits.

“Australia already has a rich supply of high-grade rare earths deposits and strong expertise in processing techniques to extract the most out of our resources that puts us in a strong position globally,” Mr Jenkinson said.

“This funding will allow us to gain an even greater understanding of the mineralogy and processing routes needed to tap into clay-hosted and ionic-adsorption deposits, which have higher ratios of sought-after magnet metals.”

Koppamurra clays

Australian Rare Earths’ Koppamurra’s resource estimate currently stands at 186 million tonnes at a total rare earth oxide grade of 712 parts per million, with the company seeing ample scope for continued growth.

The current resource covers about 2% of the total tenement area, and 99 million tonnes sit in the measured and indicated categories.

The bulk of Australian Rare Earths’ exploration activities was previously focused on mapping and understanding the project’s geology, but it has now progressed to the definition stage, with a trial pit constructed to collect samples for offsite testing.

The latest assays have reinforced the potential for a shallow high-grade subset to the Koppamurra resource, with Australian Rare Earths expecting more  in soon from an untested 10-kilometre-long northern strike extension.

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