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The down under REE report: new in Angola, surprise in Queensland

Add Angola to your Australian REE explorer watch list. An Australian junior explorer, Black Fire Minerals (ASX:BFE) has taken an option over the Longonjo REE project in central Angola. The company would, if the deal goes through, own 70 per cent of the 3600 square kilometre project.

Previous exploration has identified an REE anomaly with assays peaking at 1.68 per cent lanthanum, 3.04 per cent cerium and 0.3 niobium. There is also thorium and phosphate. The anomaly covers 2km by 1.5km and is hosted in carbonatite, which the company points out is the same host rock as the Mt Weld deposit in Australia.

One interesting aspect of the announcement is that, while it sent the share price up around 30 per cent soon after the news broke, the level of trading was muted in terms of the number of trades and the volume of shares going through. This subdued volume is out of line with other recent REE announcements in Australia over recent months, and may reflect market wariness toward a jurisdiction with Angola’s history, even though the civil war finished nine years ago.

Moreover, Black Fire stock closed on Friday at 11c, so this was not a company that had been getting all that much traction with investors of late. Its other interests are gold and oil prospects in Western Australia, and lithium in Namibia. Then, mid-February, it picked up a tungsten-copper project in Nevada. Three years ago it had a stumble when an attempt to acquire an iron ore project in Nigeria fell through.

The new REE project is located near the town of Longonjo, 600km southeast of the capital, Luanda. It has nearby a recently recommissioned railway which runs to the port of Benguela. Longonjo is one of five REE projects listed by the US Geological Survey. And it was just a week earlier that the Tokyo newspaper The Mainichi Daily News reported that Japan and Angola had reached basic agreement on a bilateral investment treaty. The newspaper said Japanese companies including Toyota, machinery giant Komatsu and trading houses Sojitz and Sumitomo had dispatched staff to Angola which, the paper said, “is rich in resources including oil, diamonds and rare earth minerals”.

Meanwhile, back in Australia, phosphate explorer Krucible Metals (ASX: KRB) reported it has followed up anomalous yttrium values struck when drilling its Korella project, near Mount Isa, Queensland. Now systematic assaying has revealed a consistent blanket of yttrium enrichment lying immediately above its main phosphate zone. Intersections included 3 metres at 0.245 per cent yttrium. The company adds that mineralogical and metallurgical test work needs to be done before any economic value can be assigned to the yttrium.

And Territory Uranium (ASX:TUC) says the first hole of a new drilling program at the Quantum rare earth project near Pine Creek, Northern Territory, has reached its target zone. While the core has yet to be assayed, the company said it showed identical geological characteristics to previous rare earth intersections at Quantum.