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Meeka joins rare earths party with footprint expansion

Updated: Apr 18

Drilling at Meeka Metals’ Circle Valley rare earth project near Esperance in WA. Credit: File

Meeka Metals has added new impetus to Australia’s growing rare earths sector after unveiling 10 square kilometres of high-grade clay-hosted mineralisation at its Circle Valley project about 100km north of Esperance in WA.

While assays from drilling spread over a further 5 sq km are still pending, the company says it will declare an initial JORC resource for Circle Valley in the June quarter using its drilling data from the entire 15 sq km.

It comes after Godolphin Resources and Australian Rare Earths both this week revealed discoveries claimed to be of national and international significance – and Meeka’s resource may yet prove to be even more meaningful.

The company’s wholly-owned project returned saprolite clay-hosted total rare earth oxide (TREO) grades of up to 3084 parts per million with consistently high neodymium-praseodymium assays of up to 34 per cent of the TREO values.

Management says 60 infill and extensional drill holes spread over 10 sq km gave results including 6m at 2360ppm TREO, comprised of 30 per cent neodymium-praseodymium from 46m and 8m grading 1542ppm TREO, with 27 per cent neodymium-praseodymium from 20m.

Drilling in the 15 sq km area was designed to infill and extend rare earth mineralisation where previous shallow results gave high-grade readings up to 6894ppm TREO.

Initial results from this program confirm what was evident in the drilling completed during 2022, thick zones of high-grade mineralisation rich in NdPr magnet rare earth elements. This drilling significantly expands the footprint of mineralisation in preparation for Mineral Resource estimation. Meeka managing director Tim Davidson

The company said shallow high-grade rare earths mineralisation trends north-west and remains open in that direction, providing further growth potential.

Rare earths mineralisation at Circle Valley accumulates in a saprolite clay horizon, which the company says creates thick near-surface zones beneath shallow cover. Drilling has shown the cover material thins to the north-west where the highest-grade mineralisation is recorded at up to 6894ppm TREO. Mineralisation shows a consistently high percentage of the valuable magnet rare earths neodymium-praseodymium, which make up as much as 34 per cent of the TREO levels.

Meeka says clay-hosted rare earths deposits often enjoy significant project and cost advantages compared to hard rock deposits because of lower-cost bulk mining and a simple process flow sheet. Clay-hosted deposits have lower capital requirements because they do not have to crush hard rock to release the rare earths minerals.

Clay-hosted rare earths deposits do not routinely produce toxic tailings waste.

Declaring significant clay-hosted rare earth maiden JORC resources seems to be the flavour of the month and is showing how hot the sector is in Australia.

Godolphin this week declared a maiden JORC mineral resource estimate for its NSW-based Narraburra rare earths project of 94.9 million tonnes at 739ppm TREO, including a high-grade core of 20 million tonnes going 1079ppm TREO.

Also this week, South Australian-based Australian Rare Earths revealed an updated Koppamurra mineral resource estimate of 101 million tonnes at 818ppm TREO, with the indicated category increasing to 63 million tonnes grading 839ppm TREO. The company also announced a conceptual project exploration target with a range of between 330 million and 1.4 billion tonnes.

Both Godolphin and Australian Rare Earths declared their projects were of national and international importance. And with a resource base drawing upon drilling spread over a 15 sq km area, who is to say Meeka will not be the next to join this selective major project club.

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