American Rare Earths Ltd’s (ASX:ARR) (FRA:1BHA) wholly-owned US subsidiary, Western Rare Earths, has received all the necessary permits and approvals to begin its 2021 core drilling campaign at the La Paz Scandium and Rare Earth Project in Arizona, USA.
Core samples from the program will have two major purposes - to explore the opportunity to expand and upgrade the resource in size and grade and, secondly, to provide material for advanced metallurgical test-work by proven traditional methods as well as promising high-efficiency new technologies.
The company plans to drill to double the depth of the current resource in a program with nine drill holes to 61 metres each – that’s 50% more than the six holes originally announced.
The drilling is set to commence on March 12, 2021.
Larger and deeper drilling
Chief technical consultant and consulting geologist Jim Guilinger stated in the 2020 JORC 2012-compliant technical report that “a detailed review of the previous drilling at different elevations indicates opportunity for more than 60 metres thickness of higher-grade rare earths values in the lower plate gneiss.
“Thus, the topography lends itself to the opportunity to substantially increase the resource by deeper drilling in the lower plate, where higher grade rare earths are prevalent.
“This analysis supports the plan for a core drilling campaign to 61-metre depths.”
In addition to further exploring the maiden resource area, the expanded campaign allows for reconnaissance at depth in the new project areas southwest of the maiden resource.
This may indicate the possibility that the ore body extends several kilometres as indicated by robust surface sample results similar to those in the maiden resource area.
Potential scandium opportunity
In the technical report, Guilinger recommended that “it is imperative that better quality samples in the form of cores be drilled in select high-grade areas previously identified by the percussion drilling.
“Additionally, scandium recovery needs to be investigated.
“Scandium values tend to be high also in areas of high ppm TREE so the drilling will also likely identify a scandium resource greater than 11 parts per million (ppm).
“After the planned 2021 drilling program we expect to be able to upgrade the rare earths resource and separately establish a maiden resource for scandium.”
The company will utilise the core drill assay results from this drilling campaign to determine if a maiden scandium resource can be established, concomitant and additional to the project’s resource estimate of 128.2 million tonnes at 373.4 ppm (0.037%) Total Rare Earth Elements (TREE).
La Paz proposed drill hole locations.
Government flags scandium as critical
Developing a new scandium resource estimate in the United States is attractive to the company for several reasons.
According to the US Geological Survey’s 2021 Mineral Commodity Summaries publication: “Domestically, scandium was neither mined nor recovered from process streams or mine tailings in 2020.
“Limited capacity to produce ingot and distilled scandium metal existed at facilities in Ames, IA; Tolleson, Arizona.”
Notably, Tolleson, Arizona is only 200 kilometres from the La Paz Project site.
Additionally, scandium, along with rare earths, was identified by the US Government on its final list of critical minerals (targeting mineral commodities that are vital to the nation’s security and economic prosperity) pursuant to a 2017 Presidential Executive Order.
The project has the advantage of being in a Fraser Institute global Top 10 mining-friendly jurisdiction in Arizona and is one of the very few mining asset classes referenced favourably by the Biden Administration.
Additionally, the local community of La Paz County has been supportive, supplying the water needed by the drilling crew in short order at a fair market price and making the project a top priority for support due to the potential for bringing jobs to a high poverty area.
La Paz Economic Development Corporation president and CEO Vincent Becker said: “The La Paz Rare Earth Project is critical to the development of Laz Paz County, the town of Parker, Bouse, Quartzsite, Salome, and Wenden.
“La Paz Rare Earths Project has the potential to create between 200 to 400 plus quality high paying jobs that leave a permanent positive impact on the La Paz County region.
“The economic impact of the La Paz Rare Earth Project will be felt throughout Arizona and the United States as this project addresses the constrained critical minerals and rare earth supply chain used by the US Defence Department and renewable energy industries operating in Arizona.”
Story by ProactiveInvestors
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