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Rare earth exploration firing up in Australia

25 March 2022
Jack Baker

The federal government’s $243 million backing of Australia’s nascent critical minerals sector is helping a growing cohort of developing companies find opportunities in emerging critical minerals markets worldwide.

Australia has been blessed with significant reserves of these minerals needed by emerging markets – producing around half the world’s lithium and are the second-largest producer of cobalt and fourth-largest producer of rare earth elements.

Explorer Mt Monger Resources (ASX:MTM) is increasing focus on REE and battery metal opportunities in southern Western Australia following its recent acquisition of multi-element projects in the highly prospective Ravensthorpe region.

The ASX relative newcomer is broadening its portfolio of exploration prospects and is upbeat on the new projects’ excellent prospectivity for ionic clay-hosted rare earth element deposits and lithium-bearing pegmatites.

Presently, the company is compelled by the government classification of critical minerals to be investigating several REE-clay deposits.

“These kinds of deposits are attractive because they can have large resources, are typically close to the surface so they are amenable to open-pit mining, and can be processed using cost-effective heap leaching methods,” managing director Lachlan Reynolds explains.

“The discovery of new deposits and recognition of potentially important styles of mineralisation in Western Australia is increasing our geological knowledge and thereby our understanding of the opportunity,” he adds.

And the opportunity seems to be unfolding more quickly than first thought. Prices for some of the most critical rare earths, like neodymium-praseodymium and terbium, have doubled in the last 12 months.

Western nations are moving fast to compete as they make massive investments in all possible mining, refining and smelting capacities.

Reynolds says the government investment provides explorers confidence rare earth discoveries will have developmental backing.

“This decreases our overall business risk, and we can invest more of our exploration budgets on the discovery and delineation of deposits,” he says.

Any discoveries the explorer might make certainly has value beyond its shareholders and into Australia’s continued status as a preeminent force in the mining world.

MTM’s Australian Stock Exchange-listed share price has risen 11.76 per cent today, trading at has 19c (11:29 am UTC+ 8 hours).

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