The 100%-owned Kennedy Rare Earth Element project encompasses two granted EPMs and 10 EPM applications in North Queensland.
North Queensland hosts a variety of intrusive and metamorphic rocks that contain elevated rare earth elements. When these rocks are weathered, especially under hot, humid conditions, they contribute to proximal, residual clay or fine sediment deposits. These may in turn be subject to further weathering and formation of laterite. During these weathering process rare earth elements may adhere to and concentrate in clays.
The key to viability of this style of deposit is low cost of beneficiation. Rare earth elements can be extracted by simple leach, desorption chemistry using weak acids in ambient conditions.
Initial metallurgical work on early drill samples has already indicated favourable results both with respect to rare earth element recoveries and acid consumption.
The Company has focussed exploration on EPM 28009 immediately to the south of Mt Garnet where it has conducted “proof of concept” RAB drilling. Results have been positive indicating near-surface concentrations of elevated rare earth elements (Figure 1). Importantly, the host clay horizon (Target Regolith) as mapped by Geological Survey of Queensland (1:250,000 Atherton Sheet), is extensive and provides significant upside for future exploration.
Figure 1 Kennedy Project showing location of drill holes and the extent of the Target Regolith with granted EPMs 28009 and 28012Figure 1 Kennedy Project showing location of drill holes and the extent of the Target Regolith with granted EPMs 28009 and 28012
Results show that the top 2 to 4 metres consistently host elevated rare earth elements (Figure 2) in widely spaced drill holes (Figure 3).
Figure 2 Total Rare Earth Oxides (TREO) intercepts from surface.
Figure 3 TREO in wide spaced “proof of concept” drill holes.
Test work conducted by ANSTO show rapid recoveries by desorption of REE in the first 30 minutes using 0.5 mol/L AMSUL solution (which is the industry standard for ionic clay processing globally) in weak acidic conditions (pH4). Pleasingly, very low dissolution of cerium (Ce2O3), iron, calcium, and aluminium all lead to very low acid consumption (averaging 3.3 kg/t reported by ANSTO). Low acid consumption and low dissolution of gangue minerals, including cerium, are very encouraging and a key characteristic of favourable ionic clay mineral systems.