Vital Metals (ASX: VML) has unearthed “ultra-high-grade” rare earth oxides in what managing director Geoff Atkins claims are “among the highest grades of any rare earth project in the world”.
The high-grade REO was intersected at the North T resource within the company’s Nechalacho project in Canada’s north-west territories.
Better results were 2.4m at 38.4% total rare earth oxides (TREO) from 13m, including 8.1% neodymium and praseodymium (NdPr); 5.1m at 22.9% TREO from 12m, including 5.2% NdPr; and 5.4m at 19% TREO from 2m, including 4.3% NdPr.
Vital estimates the high value NdPr REO content is about 23.5% TRO.
Additionally, the company noted that all intercepts were within 30m of surface.
“These results are particularly significant – among the highest grades of any rare earth project in the world,” Mr Atkins said.
“The exceptional REO grades, with up to 8.1% NdPr, are being reported almost at surface, an ideal outcome for our plan to produce a high-grade REO concentrate from Nechalacho.”
“This drilling is testing the near-surface Bastnaesite zone at our North T deposit, which is expected to be our start pit of the operation,” he added.
The project has a current light REO resource of 94.7 million tonnes at 1.46% TREO.
However, the latest drill results will be incorporated into an updated resource which is scheduled for the release before the end of next month.
Advancing Nechalacho REO project
Vital’s strategy at Nechalacho is to develop a low-cost open pit operation at the North T zone, with production targeted for this year.
Metallurgical test work has indicated the extensive bastnaesite mineralisation is amenable to ore concentration via low cost X-ray sorting followed by hydrometallurgical leaching, which has demonstrated up to 97% recovery.
Vital plans to begin site works at the project in March, with the ore sorter to be mobilised to site in July.
Once the North T zone is operational, Vital plans to develop a larger, longer-term operation focused on the project’s Tardiff zone resources.