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American West Metals adds indium, gold to Utah resource

Updated: Mar 26

Indium-rich chalcopyrite, bornite and sphalerite in drill core from American West Metals’ Desert West project in Utah. Credit: File

American West Metals has pumped up the mineral resource at its West Desert project in Utah with nearly 24 million ounces of indium and 119,000 gold ounces and says it has the only indium deposit in the United States.

The company’s updated JORC-compliant resource adds to the existing 1.3 million tonnes of zinc, 49,000 tonnes of copper and 10 million ounces of silver defined at the project in February this year.

Management says 18.7 million tonnes at 13 grams per tonne indium and 0.09g/t gold sits in a potential open-pit resource, with a further 15 million tonnes grading 28.7g/t indium and 0.12g/t gold within a higher-grade underground deposit.

It includes 18.7 million tonnes at 2.8 per cent zinc, 0.12 per cent copper and 11g/t silver contained within the open-pit opportunity. It also has 15 million tonnes at an enticing 5.2 per cent zinc, 0.18 per cent copper and 7 g/t silver contained within a possible high-grade underground mine close to the potential open pit that was revealed in February.

The West Desert deposit has a premier postcode in Utah’s Sevier Orogenic Belt that houses the productive Tintic Mining district, about 160km south-west of Salt Lake City. The operation takes in more than 300 acres of private land, 336 unpatented mining claims and a single state mineral lease tallying up to about 32 square kilometres of ground.

Management believes there is significant potential to expand all known metals within the West Desert resource, including a recently-identified copper zone that has not been included in the updated resource estimate. Previous drill results in the area show 17.22m grading 1.04 per cent copper, 0.58g/t gold and 12.46g/t indium from 325.21m.

Indium and gold had been left out of the company’s maiden resource estimate for West Desert while it assessed data gaps in historical drilling, but further studies allowed the valuable metals to be included as inferred resources.

West Desert is currently the only indium resource in the US and is one of the largest undeveloped deposits of the metal globally. As the geopolitical alignment of supply chains in the resources sector emerges as an important issue in the U.S., the updated MRE highlights the unique characteristics of West Desert and its importance to the supply of critical and strategic metals. American West Metals managing director Dave O’Neill

Indium is considered a critical and strategic mineral and is used in the aerospace, defence, energy and telecommunications sectors. According to the US Geological Survey, the US was a 100 per cent net importer, making the country completely reliant on indium sourced from China, Canada, the Republic of Korea and France in 2021.

The malleable metal is an important component of touch screens, flatscreen TVs and solar panels due to its ability to conduct electricity, bond strongly to glass and its transparency.

In November last year, The US Federal Government provided the Utah Geological Survey with a grant to study the site’s critical and strategic metals. The US$300,000 (AU$457,000) grant runs for three years and will help investigate how the deposit was formed, the characteristics of the ground’s indium mineralisation and a wider review of the area’s geological makeup.

The results of the study will be shared with American West, allowing the explorer unfettered access to a dataset that could fuel development and exploration targeting of the site’s ore.

The market seemed suitably impressed today by American West’s addition of the indium resource at West Desert, with the company’s shares jumping more than 20 per cent to touch 14 cents during intraday trading, from a close yesterday of 11.5 cents.

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