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Mount Ridley Mines delivers maiden Esperance rare earths resource

Mount Ridley Mines drilling at its Mia rare earths prospect near Esperance. Credit: File

Mount Ridley Mines (ASX: MRD) has delivered an impressive maiden resource estimate of 168 million tonnes at 1201 parts per million total rare earth oxides (TREO) for the Mia prospect at its namesake project near Esperance in Western Australia.

The inferred category figure also includes a higher-grade component in several zones, with 83 million tonnes going 1558ppm TREO at the 8.5km open-ended mineralised corridor.

Importantly, the resource contains a hefty amount of the valuable magnetic rare earth oxides (MREO), including neodymium, praseodymium, terbium and dysprosium, that in total makes up 301ppm, or about 25 per cent of the total TREO grade.

Management says the resource model for the central Mia prospect takes into account 382 air-core (AC) holes, which cover an area of 40 square kilometres where drillholes intersected rare earths mineralisation generally exceeding 700ppm TREO.

Through drilling, the Company has progressively revealed substantial intersections of clay-hosted REE mineralisation and today, we are pleased to report our maiden Mineral Resource Estimate for the central Mia Prospect. This is a key milestone for the Company and highlights the potential of the Mt Ridley Project, which is in a favourable location just 55km from the Port of Esperance.
Mount Ridley Mines chairman Peter Christie

In February, the company infilled a previous reconnaissance drilling pattern put in at a spacing of 2500m by 400m, covering a 27sq-km area on section lines spaced 400m apart, with holes selectively spaced between 100m and 400m.

The best 10 holes of the campaign revealed a headline intercept length of 31m at 1379ppm TREO from 18m, featuring 22 per cent MREO. The highest TREO grade of 2194ppm was contained within a 9m hit from 21m and included 24 per cent MREO.

Mount Ridley’s namesake rare earths project takes in nine granted exploration licences centred about 55km north-east of Esperance on the south coast of WA. The ground covers about 3400sq km and extends parallel to major north-east/south-west-oriented regional structures including the Coramup Shear and Heywood-Cheyne Fault.

Previous assays from Mia include 6m at 6648ppm TREO from 57m and 8m going 3022ppm TREO from just 4m, while wider results include an impressive 41m reading 3970ppm TREO from 15m. The 6m intercept revealed in March last year included a 1m section at a staggering 28,831ppm TREO from 62m.

The company has previously achieved outstanding beneficiation results from samples at the project, with simple screening techniques lifting grades by up to 202 per cent. Results show an average grade increase of 164 per cent using samples from its Mia and Jody prospects, while samples from Mount Ridley’s Vincent target returned a maximum upgrade of 202 per cent.

The Mount Ridley project was initially acquired by the company for its nickel and copper sulphide potential. However, that all changed when it re-analysed 1108 samples from previous AC work and found more than half the samples contained significantly-elevated levels of clay-based rare earths that are considered critical to the low-carbon energy movement.

With a defined maiden mineral resource at Mia, the company says its next steps will be working to build momentum and determine its requirements to deliver an indicated resource to support capital expenditure and progress.

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