Northern Minerals Drills Growth Potential at Browns Range

THE DRILL SERGEANT: Northern Minerals (ASX: NTU) has been encouraged by assay results from drilling across several targets at the company’s Browns Range project in Western Australia.

Northern Minerals completed 8,500 metres of reverse circulation (RC) drilling at Browns Range in late 2020, having commenced a $5 million exploration program to include up to 16,500m of drilling before the end of June 2021.

The first batch of assay results have been received from 45 drill holes at Dazzler Northwest (7 holes), Dazzler North/Ripcord (16 holes), Dazzler (6 holes), Gambit West (7 holes), Wolverine West (4 holes) and a new prospect named Toad (5 holes).

Encouraging drill results were received from first-pass drilling at the Toad and Dazzler North prospects.

Best results from Toad were:

9 metres at 0.54 per cent total rare earth oxide (TREO) from 53m, and
11m at 0.37 per cent TREO from 52m

At Dazzler North an intercept of 3m at 0.74 per cent TREO from 8m was returned.

Northern Minerals will follow-up these initial results in the second phase of drilling being planned at Browns Range in 2021, following the end of the wet season in the Kimberley region.

“We are very pleased to have exceeded our target of getting at least 8,000 metres of drilling completed before Christmas as well as post some very encouraging early results,” Northern Minerals CEO Mark Tory said in the company’s ASX announcement.

“Following up on these results will be one component of the second phase of our exploration drilling campaign, which we will be back on the ground to complete before the end of June.

“The relatively shallow depth as well as the grade and widths of some of these intersections give us plenty to work with, however much of the drilling in the first half of 2021 will be at new greenfields targets.

“Our overall strategy remains to increase the Mineral Resource and the life-of-mine potential at Browns Range to more than 20 years.

“This will feed into a future feasibility study for a potential commercial scale heavy rare earths operation at Browns Range.”








Metals Set To Energise Future

THE CONFERENCE CALLER: The mining sector looks set to be a leading force in the looming green revolution as the current crop of explorers seek to establish projects designed to contribute to a low carbon future. By Mark Fraser

During the 2020 RIU Explorers Conference in Fremantle, a large number of companies made it clear that they have a firm eye on issues pertaining to sustainability as they go about developing their respective mineral assets.

In particular, they are looking to help supply the electric vehicle and wind turbine markets with the metals they need as reliance on fossil fuels across the globe continues to dampen.

During his market update at the start of day two, Canaccord Genuity head of mining research Reg Spencer reconfirmed everyone’s suspicions that the prices for some of the metals used in modern cars – including nickel and copper – had bottomed in 2020 but were expected to rally next year.

Then there were the niche minerals, which also look set to have their day over the next decade.

“I think most people will agree that the outlook for lithium and battery materials does remain positive,” Spencer said.

“The reduction of carbon emissions, especially from transport, does remain the key focus for the near term.”

Spencer said Canaccord was surprised at the lack of attention the rare earths sector was receiving from investors – especially as it was forecast that wind energy capacity would increase by 2,500 per cent between 2007 and 2030.

“Rare Earth permanent magnets are critical components for electric vehicle drive chains and wind turbine generators – and market dynamics are evolving significantly, with an increase in desire for ex-China supply and a tighter regulation of Chinese production,” Spencer continued.

“Now we expect demand to grow significantly … demand should more or less double over the next 10 years … and that will be primarily driven by electric vehicles and wind turbines.

“With these factors in play, and the changing dynamics of the supply-demand equation – and the potential for China to lose their tight grip on the rare earths market – we see opportunities for this particular sector over the next couple of years as well.”

During a later presentation, Northern Minerals managing director and chief executive George Bauk also wondered why the investment community seemed to be disinterested in rare earth stocks.

The company is currently developing its advanced Browns Range rare earths project, which straddles the Western Australian and Northern Territory borders in the Tanami region.

“That’s a bloody good question – why invest in Northern Minerals?” Bauk put to his audience.

“We’ve really got to get people back into believing in rare earths and get the equity markets to back it.

“We haven’t had the moment, if you like, to get people interested in it.

“The governments are doing things and working on it – I’m not quite sure what the event has got to be to get people back on the screens and buy rare earth stocks.

“But if you are getting a bit sick and bored with gold stories, come and have a look at Northern Minerals and rare earths.”

Meanwhile, RareX executive director Jeremy Robinson said it was important that another Australian company follow in the footsteps of Lynas Corporation and develop a significant rare earths project outside of China (which has one major mine that currently produces about 80% of the world’s output) to ensure a supply chain remained in place for the West.

Like Northern Minerals, RareX has a project in WA – that being the company’s Cummins Range play in the state’s East Kimberley.

“There is only one major (rare earths) development in the world outside of China and that’s Lynas,” Robinson said.

“And Lynas sells a lot of its product into its own refinery, and into Japan and Europe.

“So what you see is a very risky supply chain there for the West, especially in military operations (which would) all get shut down.

“You see a lot of talk about this in the press and I think you are going to see a lot of action in places like the US and Australia.”


Northern Minerals (ASX: NTU) Explorers 2020

THE CONFERENCE CALLER: The enormity of Australian heavy rare earths producer, Northern Minerals’ Browns Range project is difficult to encapsulate in such a short feature, however we will try.

The Browns Range project is centred on the Browns Range Dome, a geological feature in the northern Tanami region, straddling both Western Australia and the Northern Territory.

The landholding has proven highly prospective for heavy rare earth mineralisation with plenty of potential for further discoveries.

Northern Minerals has 100 per cent ownership and marketing rights for all but three of the Browns Range Dome tenements and is earning up to an 80 per cent interest in the remaining three that are in Joint Venture with Toro Energy.

The company has substantial deposits of heavy rare earths, particularly the high value element, dysprosium, which became the leading commodity in the development of the project.

Northern Minerals is positioned to become the world’s first major producer of dysprosium outside of China.

Accounting for 60 per cent of Browns Range revenue, dysprosium is the key value driver of the project and is at the core of Northern Minerals’ marketing strategy.

With a high-value, high-purity, dysprosium-rich product, the company is set to become a long term and reliable supplier of dysprosium and other critical heavy rare earths to world markets.

Dysprosium is an essential element in the production of neodymium permanent magnets as it makes them long lasting and able to retain efficiency at extremely high temperatures.

We are slaves to technology and REs enable that technology to be smaller, lighter and more efficient, being a key component in the manufacture of clean energy and high-end technology solutions.

The role REs play in the manufacturing of hybrid and electric vehicles and other high-tech applications has prompted countries to seek long term sustainable supplies to support domestic industries.

Recent work at Browns Range has involved a separation study by US-based K-Technologies (K-Tech).

The study is investigating the possibility of applying separation technology on intermediate mixed rare earths materials produced at Browns Range.

If it works, the technology will enable Northern Minerals to produce separated rare earth oxides that currently require separation in China—including dysprosium oxide and terbium oxide.

The company has partnered with (K-Tech) to assess the suitability of separating Browns Range intermediate mixed rare earth materials with the latter’s proprietary technology.

“It’s exciting to see positive results from the first stages of bench scale testwork being undertaken at K-Tech,” Northern Minerals managing director and CEO George Bauk said.

“If successful, we would have a clear pathway to advance downstream in the supply chain to supply separated products to a much wider customer base.

“We have moved quickly to advance the ore sorter project, identified as a potential game changer for the project.

“Higher grades going into the plant would result in higher production rates and lower operating costs, a double win in terms of improving the economics of the Browns Range project.”

The Browns Range is the first xenotime-hosted rare earth project to be developed anywhere in the world, which means the company needs to fully understand metallurgical processes involved before committing to a full-scale development.

To carry out the appropriate testing the Browns Range Pilot Plant Project has been developed to assess the economic and technical feasibility of a larger scale development.

A staggering 271 individual R&D projects have been planned for the three-year pilot plant stage to conduct experiments on most areas of the plant, including fine grinding, magnetic separation, flotation, leaching, purification and ion exchange, with a focus on improving the efficiency and operation of the sulphation bake kiln.

Although the company is targeting full-scale steady state production by in H1 2020, the variable nature of the R&D program means it is unlikely it will be in a position to forecast production rates during the program.

Northern Minerals was recently able to strike a new offtake agreement with thyssenkrupp Materials Trading Gmbh for 100 per cent of offtake from the Browns Range Pilot Plant Project.

Under the terms of the agreement, all heavy rare earth carbonate will be purchased by thyssenkrupp from the Pilot Plant project, while supplying future flexibility for Northern Minerals to supply heavy rare earths as separated products.

Importantly, the agreement also allows for the sale of the mixed heavy rare earth carbonate product as well as separated rare earth oxides, should Northern Minerals decide to move to product separation during the Pilot Plant project.

The offtake agreement includes all stockpiled product from current and future Pilot Plant project production.


Directors: Colin McCavana, George Bauk, Adrian Griffin, Yanchung Wang, Ming Lu, Bin Cai




Northern Minerals Samples Encouraging Copper Results at John Galt

THE DRILL SERGEANT: Northern Minerals (ASX: NTU) achieved high-grade copper assays following a selective rock chip sampling program at the company’s 100 per cent-owned John Galt project, Kununurra in the East Kimberley region of Western Australia.

Musgrave Minerals Continues to Line Up Gold Hits at Cue

THE DRILL SERGEANT: Musgrave Minerals (ASX: MGV) reported further high-grade gold results from reverse circulation (RC) drilling at the company’s Cue gold project in the Murchison district of Western Australia.

Galan Lithium Confirms Pata Pila Lithium Grades

THE DRILL SERGEANT: Galan Lithium (ASX: GLN) announce further lithium assay results from recent sampling performed at the Pata Pila tenement within the company’s Hombre Muerto lithium brine project in Argentina.