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ABx Group expands Tasmanian rare earths resource to 89m tonnes

ABx Group drilling in multiple prospects continues to expand its Tasmanian portfolio of rare earths resources. Credit: File

ABx Group (ASX: ABX) has expanded the rare earths resource at its combined Deep Leads-Rubble Mound-and Wind Break resources in Tasmania by 70 per cent, to 89 million tonnes at a grade of 844ppm total rare earths oxides (TREO).


Importantly, the resource contains what the company describes as the highest proportion of combined dysprosium and terbium magnet rare earths oxides (4.3 per cent of TREO) of any clay-hosted rare earths resource in Australia”.  


Both of those particular rare earths oxides are currently mined almost exclusively in China and their prominence in ABx’ latest resource upgrade will almost certainly not be lost on eagle-eyed market watchers.


The latest resource numbers are based on 3843 rare earths assays from 895 drill holes, notably covering just 29 per cent of the identified mineralised outline and represent a 70 per cent increase in tonnes over its previous estimate in November last year.


The changes are attributed primarily to 400 additional holes in the latest database which has also brought about a 3 per cent lift in grade on the previous estimate.


This campaign has enhanced the higher-grade zones that are our top candidates for production studies. ABx’s resource is exceptionally enriched in permanent magnet rare earths, especially dysprosium and terbium, which have the highest global supply risk and are almost exclusively produced from ionic adsorption clay rare earth deposits in China and Myanmar. ABx is focused on creating a rare earths project that can address looming supply shortages of these critical minerals.”
ABx Group managing director and chief executive officer Mark Cooksey


The magnet rare earth oxides (MREO) are highly prized due to their application in magnets made for high performance motors in electric vehicles and in the generators at the heart of every wind turbine. 


Management notes that as the company nears economic studies on the resources, it has introduced into its block models a resource cut-off grade based on the gross value of contained rare earth oxides, as opposed to the more common units of chemical concentration, such as parts per million or ppm.


This means it can easily adjust the in-situ gross dollar value of individual resource blocks on the fly in response to market price fluctuations and thereby rapidly optimise its pit designs and planned in-pit mining paths at short notice to minimise possible dilution. 


The Deep Leads-Rubble Mound targets lie immediately adjacent to each other in two contiguous tenements and appear to enclose two zones forming part of a north-west striking line of  mineralisation which remains open north of the Deep Leads target.


The Wind Break resource sits within its own tenement, being centred 13km north-east of the Deep Leads-Rubble Mound resource area.  


Five key high grade rare earths zones are identified in the current resource model, including Deep Leads, Rubble Mound, Alluvial Flats, Leech Scrub and Wind Break, the last being the company’s most recent prospect.  Additional high grade zones are anticipated as drilling progresses.


Together these zones point to significant further resource potential, especially given the drill program has so far covered less than a third of  their known mineralised areas. presenting plenty of opportunity for further resource growth.


Aside from its existing resources with obvious growth potential expansion, ABx appears to tick a number of very important boxes with its rare earths prospects in Tasmania.


With high levels of heavy and magnet rare earths and positive metallurgy, excellent local infrastructure, abundant industry-relevant support and grid hydro-power, ABx could soon make Tasmania famous for more than just apples and Ricky Ponting.  

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