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Down Under REE report: it’s busy in Australia

Another busy week for the Australian REE sector. There have been no dramatic announcements in recent weeks, so the share market headlines have been focused elsewhere, but a great deal is happening and further news is expected soon on a range of fronts.

However, to keep, RareMetalBlog readers up to date, here’s a run-down on activity in recent days.

Kimberley Rare Earths (ASX:KRE when listed) has issued its prospectus for the $A18.2 million initial public offering based on its Cummins Range REE project. The carbonatite was discovered in 1977-78 by the exploration arm of the then CRA (now part of Rio Tinto), probably the most active and extensive explorer in Australia’s mining history. CRA Exploration subsequently found extensive REE in follow-up drilling in 1982 and 1983, but it was decided at the time that it was unlikely that the REE resource could be increased.

But work in 2007 by Kimberley’s parent (Navigator Resources, from which the new company is being spun out) encountered REE and uranium at grades and thicknesses not found by CRA. Two of Navigator’s directors will sit on the board at Kimberley, including the high profile geologist Allan Trench who has a wealth of exploration experience in Western Australia. Another director, Peter Rowe, formerly headed up AngloGold Ashanti’s Australian operations and was general manager at the large Boddington gold mine.

As reported on RareMetalBlog during the week, Orion Metals (ASX:ORM) has decided to fast-track work at its Killi Killi HREE project located in Western Australia close to the Northern Territory border. It is still the wet season in the area but field work will begin next month, followed by drilling in June. While the work will be to assess the range of key HREE, the major focus will be on establishing the dysprosium potential.

West Australia’s Department of Mines and Petroleum has approved the work program for a new REE project and drilling is planned to start on Monday, April 18. The Mt Barrett project is located northeast of the Mt Weld REE mine (now under construction) and the exploration company, Datamotion Asia Pacific (ASX:DMN), believes the mineralisation is similar to that at Mt Weld.

Emerging lithium producer Galaxy Resources (ASX:GXY) says it has identified new exploration targets at its Ponton REE project, 200km east of the West Australian mining city of Kalgoorlie and just 70km from the Trans-Australian railway line. A review of recently purchased historical data suggests that the REE anomaly is significantly larger than previously thought. Most of this data was collected by the former explorer Herald Resources in 1993, to which has been added information amassed by the West Australian government agency Landgate. It was previously reported that Herald’s drilling results included several high grade hits of rare earth oxides.

Lynas Corp (ASX:LYC), which this week received approval from Australia’s Foreign Investment Review Board for Japanese trading house Sojitz Corp to take a substantial stake in the company, has also been given a “buy” recommendation by analysts at Deutsche Bank. They note the $US250 million financing package with Sojitz, and other raisings, and see Lynas as the next source of REE supplies worldwide as restrictions in Chinese exports tighten. Deutsche says it remains cautious in regard to the ground commissioning and associated issues but, for now, momentum remains with Lynas. It is also encouraged by the REE basket of prices rising 87 per cent in three months.

Krucible Metals (ASX:KRB) has now defined a resource according to Australia’s JORC standard for the yttrium at its Korella phosphate deposit in Queensland. The resource stands at 4.2 million tonnes at 746 grams a tonne yttrium, with neodymium and dysprosium associated with the yttrium. It seems the yttrium is contained in the mineral xenotime, a relatively pure phosphate/yttrium mineral that is amenable to gravity or flotation separation, the company says. So far, it seems that the xenotime contains no uranium or arsenic.

Follow more developments at the Rare Metal Blog.