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Defense Metals drills 221 metres of 2.14% TREO, including 3.52% at Wicheeda in British Columbia

The Wicheeda rare earths project is only 80 km from Prince George, B.C. Credit: Defense Metals

Assay results are only partial, but Defense Metals (TSXV: DEFN) shared what they have received from the additional 353-metre hole at its 100%-owned Wicheeda rare earth elements (REE) deposit. The property is located 80 km northeast of Prince George in central British Columbia.

Infill hole WI22-69 intersected a zone of dolomite carbonatite averaging 2.14% total rare earth oxide (TREO) over 221 metres, including 3.52% TREO over 111 metres.

The company has drilled over 5,500 metres in 18 holes this year as part of the Wicheeda resource delineation and pit geotechnical program. The company has released assays for a total of 2,493 metres in seven holes. Assays for the remaining 11 holes totalling 3,017 m are expected in the coming weeks and months.

“With these additional assay results our 2022 drilling continues to yield significant intervals of the high-grade REE dolomite carbonatite lithology,” Defense Metals president Luisa Moreno said in a release. “Recent flotation variability test work has shown this type of mineralization consistently delivers high-grade mineral concentrates greater than 40% TREO, at recoveries in excess of 80%.”

The 2021 preliminary economic assessment (PEA) for Wicheeda project demonstrated an after-tax net present value (8% discount) of C$517 million and an internal rate of return of 18%. A unique advantage of the project is the production of a saleable high-grade flotation-concentrate, according to Defense Metals.

The PEA contemplates a 1.8 million tonnes per year mill throughput, open pit mining operation with 1.75:1 (waste/mill feed) strip ratio over a 19-year mine life producing and average of 25,423 tonnes REO annually. The mining plan includes rapid access to higher grade surface mineralization in year one and payback of C$440 million initial capital within five years.

The Wicheeda deposit has an indicated resource of 5.0 million tonnes averaging 2.95% TREO and an inferred resource of 29.5 million tonnes at 1.83% TREO.