Richard Brescianini is back with Coffee with Samso Episode 191 and shares with us the path forward with Heavy Rare Earths Limited (ASX: HRE).
I have always said that Richard Brescianini, the Executive Director of Heavy Rare Minerals Limited, is the best person when it comes to understanding how the Rare Earth sector functions. Richard has had a long history of experience within the sector and in this Coffee with Samso, he shares with us what is happening with HRE and about the path forward in 2024.
Investors are facing a reality check in the rare earth sector, as they search for viable contenders among the limited number of companies remaining. While there is a growing interest in pursuing "ionic" projects in Brazil, it is crucial for everyone to carefully evaluate the economic feasibility of such ventures.
In this episode, Richard and I delve into the key factors that drive the success of a business. We explore the crucial role of acid in metal extraction, as using more acid leads to higher metal yields. However, we acknowledge that the cost of acid extraction poses a significant challenge, and it's important to consider all other aspects of the business as well.
When it comes to Australian Clay Rare Earth projects, they may not possess all the advantageous properties typically associated with a strong REE project. However, they do offer lower jurisdiction risks, which in turn present challenges in establishing a sustainable infrastructure. It is essential for projects to maintain consistency across various aspects, including metallurgical factors and grade, within the deposit.
Furthermore, we delve into the exploration updates on Duke and Perinjori projects. Our discussion revolves around the merits of the Duke project and the latest developments in its exploration efforts.
Investors and companies in the Rare Earth sector must adopt a long-term perspective on commercialization. It is widely acknowledged that working on clay rare earth projects has been a challenging and arduous journey. There have been concerns that companies promoting these projects will face unfavorable outcomes. The prevailing bearish sentiment in the equity market further reinforces these doubts.
I must confess that I shared similar reservations. I questioned whether the demand and excitement surrounding this sector would be sustainable. However, my recent attendance at a Rare Earth Conference in Canberra completely changed my perspective. Over the course of three days, I was fully engaged and attentive, only missing one talk. The conference rekindled my enthusiasm for the sector and left me feeling invigorated.
The primary reason is that a significant amount of money has already been invested. Additionally, there is substantial funding available to establish a new downstream chain outside of China.
Prior to attending the conference, I heard a lot of talk, but it's important to approach such information with caution. However, after attending the conference, I am now convinced that the talk is legitimate and the demand for more rare earth elements (REE) is credible. While the establishment of the downstream process is not yet complete, progress has been made. The amount of money pledged to establish a non-China-aligned downstream chain is astonishing. The projected demand for REE in our electrification journey suggests that companies like HRE will have long-term viability.
Therefore, for those interested in this sector, I recommend some DYOR and delving into what is happening beyond the noise of general news. Take the time to explore the developments in the real world of REE.
01:10 Cowalinya Exploration Target
06:03 Could the geology create issues for your Exploration Target at Cowalinya?
09:05 All about the Duke Project
14:03 Do you think Duke could have a different REE chemistry?
17:24 New Project - Perenjori
22:32 Discussion about the clay-hosted space
27:21 A second supply chain for the rare earths market?
37:58 What are the immediate goals for HRE to monetise the business?
44:17 What could disrupt the planning?
47:21 What should investors be looking out for?
About Richard Brescianini
Richard commenced his career in mineral exploration with BHP Minerals in 1987 working in teams focused on the discovery of base and precious metal deposits across Australia and North America from offices in Brisbane, Perth, Toronto and Denver.
Richard’s experience extends further, including his time working as the Director of the Northern Territory Government’s Geological Survey in Darwin, and being part of the executive management team for rare earths developer, Arafura Resources.
About Heavy Rare Earths Limited (ASX: HRE)
Heavy Rare Earths Limited (ASX:HRE) is an Australian rare earth exploration and development company. Rare earth materials are used in a wide array of technology and future facing applications, including smart phones, wind energy, and hybrid and electric vehicles.
HRE’s key exploration project is Cowalinya, near Norseman in Western Australia. This is a clay-hosted rare earth project with a JORC Inferred Resource of 28Mt @ 625ppm TREO and a desirable rare earth composition where 25% are the valuable magnet rare earths and 23% the strategic heavy rare earths.
The company has completed a 441 drill hole program confirming widespread occurrence of shallow, thick and/or high grade rare earth mineralisation. The Company anticipates a Mineral Resource update and an estimate Exploration Target for the project in Q3 2023.
Cowalinya Project - Western Australia
The Cowalinya rare earth project is located 70 km south-east of Norseman in Western Australia. It comprises a single 230 km2 exploration licence E63/1972 on unallocated crown land hosting dominantly granitic type rocks in the Central Biranup Zone of the Albany Fraser Orogen.
The mineralisation being targeted is shallow, flat lying, supergene concentrations of rare earths present in the weathering profile overlying granitic basement. This mineralisation is similar in style to southern Chinese ionic rare earth clay deposits, the world’s main source of heavy rare earths. Although this type of rare earth deposit is low grade, low-cost open pit mining and simple inexpensive metallurgy make them profitable to exploit.
The Cowalinya area was primarily chosen on the basis of historical drilling which indicated the presence of anomalous rare earths in fresh bedrock and higher grade supergene concentrations of rare earths in the overlying in-situ weathered saprolite profile.
In June 2021 HRE drilled 109 aircore holes at Cowalinya by HRE discovered significant supergene concentrations of rare earths in two areas, Cowalinya South and North. The rare earths mineralisation, occurring as flat lying sheets within the in-situ clay-rich weathered saprolite, is contained within an average ~8-9 m thick layer which starts ~17-18 m below surface.
Independent resource consultant JMCT Consulting was engaged to prepare and report Cowalinya’s maiden Inferred Mineral Resource estimate for the project in accordance with the 2012 JORC Code: 28 Mt @ 625 ppm TREO (Total Rare Earth Oxides) using a 300 ppm TREO-Cerium Oxide (CeO2) cut-off grade. Importantly, the resource has a desirable rare earths composition where 25% are the valuable magnet rare earths and 23% the strategic heavy rare earths, and very low average concentrations of radioelements (15 ppm ThO2, 5 ppm U3O8).
Mr John Tyrrell of JMCT Consulting is the Competent Person for the Cowalinya Mineral Resource estimate (in accordance with 2012 JORC Code). TREO = La2O3+CeO2+Pr6O11+Nd2O3+Sm2O3+Eu2O3+Gd2O3+Tb4O7+Dy2O3+Ho2O3+Er2O3+Tm2O3+Yb2O3+Lu2O3+Y2O3. Magnet REOs = Pr6O11+Nd2O3+Tb4O7+Dy2O3 ; Totals may not add due to rounding ; Reported above a TREO-CeO2 cut-off grade of 300 ppm
The resource at Cowalinya remains open in all lateral directions and currently covers only a small proportion (<1.5%) of the project tenement.
Preliminary metallurgical test-work on 40 samples from the 2021 drilling program shows the rare earths are successfully brought into solution using a weak hydrochloric acid leach. Recoveries of >90% for some of the rare earths have been achieved.
Upgrade of Mineral Resource
Resource Exploration and Expansion Drilling Program – 2023
The Company has successfully completed a 441-hole resource exploration and expansion drilling program at Cowalinya (refer to ASX announcements). These assays confirmed the widespread occurrence of shallow, thick and/or high-grade rare earth mineralisation in clay-rich saprolite over a 14 x 3-kilometre area west and south-west of the Cowalinya South deposit (Figure 1). This Western Zone discovery is open to the north and northwest, has an average thickness of 11.3 metres, and includes the following significant drill intercepts (on a grade-thickness basis) reported during the quarter:
19 metres @ 3190 ppm TREO from 16 metres (AC225)
10 metres @ 2087 ppm TREO from 17 metres (AC221)
26 metres @ 1201 ppm TREO from 19 metres (AC360)
17 metres @ 1069 ppm TREO from 11 metres (AC223)
42 metres @ 790 ppm TREO from 12 metres (AC226)
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