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Australian rare earths heat up

10 November 2022 10:11
Cobra Resources' rare earths

Rare earth exploration in Australia continues to fire up, with Arafura Resources locking in a supply off-take deal with automotive giants Kia and Hyundai to secure supply from Nolans Bore.

After Australia became the primary supplier to the United States for battery-critical metals, deals with smaller producers have been incentivised by tax credits for US automakers to obtain their critical minerals from free-trade partners.

Not yet one of Australia’s rare earth powerhouses like Lynas and Iluka, the Arafura deal demonstrates an increased opportunity for smaller-scale suppliers to strike pacts with automotive giants.

Nolans emerged as Australia’s first vertically integrated rare earth project, with a mine and processing facility on a single site, holding a JORC resource estimate of 56 million tonnes of rare earth oxides at an average grade of 2.6 per cent.

And where one company strikes exploration success, its neighbours are sure to take note and see if they are standing in the midst of a rising rare earth province.

Here are the juniors looking to make the nation’s next big rare earth discovery.

First Development Resources

Less than 70 kilometres from Nolans lies First Development Resources’ Selta project — a coincidental anagram of the EV front-runner looking into to securing its own direct supply.

Early exploration at Selta has shown the underlying geology could be comparable with Nolans’ mineralisation, hosted within the types of granite prevalent across Selta.

PVW Resources (ASX: PVW)

PVW executive director George Bauk was one of multiple PVW members who were part of Northern Minerals when it marked discovery of the Wolverine deposit at Browns Range and with the right team in the right place and the right time, believe it is closing in on the nation’s next rare earth discovery.

Castillo Copper (ASX: CCZ)

Castillo Copper got excited when re-assay at its cobalt-focused Broken Hill project showed high grades up to 1460 parts per million total rare earth oxides with the company already planning a drill campaign to turn Broken Hill into a battery bastion.

Dalaroo Metals (ASX: DAL)

The Gascoyne province in Western Australia is emerging as a rare-earth hotspot, the TI-tree project was acquired for $15 million dollars and showing signs of a rare earth province, with Dalaroo’s adjoining Lyons River project returning grades as high as 1536 TREO, holding defined signatures adjacent to major structures deemed prospective by the region’s fellow rare earth explorers.

Cobra Resources (LSE: COBR)

Australia’s rare earth promise has drawn global attention, with international explorers hoping to muscle their way into this growing market, such as UK-based Cobra Resources, turning heads at the Wudinna project.

The company has increased its estimated rare-earth footprint for Wudinna to 22.3 kilometres, and have just fired up the rig for a 16-hole infill campaign, hitting 750 metre of strike to assess its full potential.

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