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Terrain on verge of Esperance rare earths breakthrough

Updated: Apr 30

Terrain Minerals drilling at roadside verges at its Lort River project near Esperance. Credit: File

Terrain Minerals has hit rare earths during a reconnaissance-scale air-core (AC) drill campaign at its Lort River project near Esperance, with high percentages of magnetic rare earth oxides (MREO) up to 43 per cent.

The company has today revealed new assay highlights that show a 3m intercept grading 919 parts per million total rare earth oxides (TREO) from 23m, including a peak 1m hit going 1878ppm TREO. It also recorded a 6m section at 900ppm TREO from 18m, including 1m reading 1815ppm and another 1m intercept with 1103ppm.

Additional results show a wider 12m intercept at 614ppm TREO from 26m and 5m going 591ppm from just 13m, including 1m grading 1042ppm.

The results were solid considering the campaign was restricted to roadside verges as Terrain continues to hold conversations with relevant landowners across the project area ahead of a targeted exploration program scheduled for early next year. The company also used 3km spacing for its drilling along public roads and not at higher-priority targets.

Management says the high percentage of MREO within the overall TREO grade, in addition to the grade of the latest hits, makes Lort River one of the core projects that it aims to build its exploration success on going forward. The project covers 320 square kilometres across the Esperance region that is fast establishing itself as something of a rare earths province.

Just last month, Terrain’s next-door neighbour OD6 Metals unveiled a maiden mineral resource of 344 million tonnes at 1308ppm TREO for its flagship Splinter Rock project near Esperance – in just over a year since its market listing.

Clay-style rare earths deposits are considered attractive as they have less complex processing requirements, driving down beneficiation expenses and reducing the time required to scrub up the raw materials into usable end products.

Last year, a review of multiple soil samples from historical gold exploration at Terrain’s site returned positive results including 580ppm TREO, with 25 per cent of the total grade made up of MREO. Another two samples returned 525ppm and 513ppm TREO, with total MREO percentages of 27 and 28 per cent, respectively.

The company is also part of a study by the Minerals Research Institute of Western Australia, which is looking into the characterisation of clay-hosted rare earths deposits in Western Australia. Neighbouring operations also participating include Mt Ridley Mines and OD6.

Rare earths are now among the suite of minerals in greatest global demand, especially for the elements neodymium and praseodymium, which are considered magnetic rare earths and are becoming increasingly important in the global economy. Their uses include advanced electronics, permanent magnets in electric motors and electricity generators and battery technologies.

And work by Terrain to gain further access to ground already showing plenty of rare earths promise with high MREO percentages could well put the company right in the mix to have an impact.

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