Discovery, News, Rare earths

Ark Mines locks in 1.5-billion-tonne rare earths target

Ark Mines has set an exploration target for its Sandy Mitchell rare earths project in far north Queensland, highlighting the project’s potential to be one of the largest “surface-expressed” rare earth projects globally.

Sandy Mitchell’s exploration target has been defined as 1.3–1.5 billion tonnes at 1250 to 1490 parts per million (ppm) monazite equivalent, following an extensive reconnaissance drilling program undertaken at the site.

The new exploration target also builds upon the recently announced mineral resource estimate (MRE) for Sandy Mitchell, which equals 21.7 million tonnes at 1419ppm monazite equivalent.

Both the exploration target and MRE is based on mineralisation from surface down to an average depth of about 11 metres. Ark Mines said this means there’s no overburden removal.

“The sheer scale of the Sandy Mitchell exploration target, up to 1.5 billion tonnes, delivers a clear statement that this is one of the world’s largest surface-expressed, sand-based placer rare earth deposits,” Ark Mines executive director Ben Emery said.

“With the consistent grades of rare earths and heavy minerals from surface to only (around) 11 metres deep, we are working with an exceptionally large and very simple deposit with an extremely low environmental impact.”

The exploration target includes a basket of heavy minerals totalling 15.6–22.3 million tonnes, including monazite, xenotime, zircon, rutile and ilmenite.

A total of 24 per cent of the target also comprises magnet rare earths such as neodymium, praseodymium, dysprosium and terbium, positioning Sandy Mitchell as one of Australia’s most enriched magnet rare earth oxide deposits.

To further demonstrate Sandy Mitchell’s potential, Ark Mines has commenced a pre-feasibility study that is expected to be reported in the fourth quarter of 2024.

“While pre-feasibility work continues, we are also busy incorporating the second phase of drilling into an updated MRE and we are now advancing on mining and other relevant project development permits,” Emery said.

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