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Mount Ridley sets new benchmark with rare earths hits

Updated: Apr 19

Mount Ridley Mines is breaking records at its Mia prospect near Esperance. Credit: File

Mount Ridley Mines believes it may be closing in on the primary source of a rare earths deposit after assessing results from resource evaluation drilling at namesake project near Esperance in Western Australia.

Management says its latest results have set a new company record at its Mia prospect, with the explorer unveiling 36m at 4398 parts per million total rare earths oxide (TREO), including 6m at 9523ppm TREO. The new record eclipses earlier Mia results revealed in March of 6m at 6648ppm TREO, containing 1m at a monster 28,831ppm.

The company’s drilling has been focused on a series of parallel and almost linear magnetic “ridges” identified in aeromagnetic imagery through a strike length exceeding 16km. Other headline results include an end-of-hole reading of 9m at 3159ppm TREO and 8m grading 3022ppm TREO.

As drilling advanced at the Mia Prospect, patterns in aeromagnetic imagery were noticed that correlate with high-grade intersections of clay-hosted mineralisation, which may represent a second style of rare earths mineralisation in underlying basement rocks. We have fast tracked petrographic evaluations of samples of fresh rare earths-enriched Felsic rocks from the observed magnetic ‘ridges’ which could be the source of the rare earths now hosted in the overlying clay. Perhaps what we are seeing is a second style of mineralisation more akin to a ‘hard-rock’ rare earths deposit. Mount Ridley Mines chairman Peter Christie

The company is now working through a library worth of data after completing more than 800 holes for 36,000m in its latest drilling campaign as it chases down a maiden resource later this year.

The Mount Ridley rare earths project covers a massive 3400 square kilometres and is sits about 50km north-east of the deepwater port of Esperance. The project is also about 20km east of the sealed Goldfields Esperance Highway and an infrastructure corridor which includes the Kalgoorlie-Esperance railway line and gas pipeline. The Esperance airport is located at Gibson Soak, again about 20km from the project.

There has been a major recent focus on developing Australia’s critical minerals sector and it reached a crescendo in last night’s Federal Budget. The Albanese Government allocated an additional $50.1 million for the next three years to its Critical Minerals Development Program for competitive grants to support early and mid-stage projects.

The budget announcement follows an earlier allocation of funds that the critical minerals industry needed to make batteries and other green technologies downstream, as Australia looks to help break the monopoly that China holds over the global supply of processed rare earths.

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