West Cobar Metals Identifies Gallium at Newmont REE Deposit

14 August 2023 08:46
West Cobar Metals Identifies Gallium At Newmont REE Deposit

West Cobar Metals (ASX: WC1) has uncovered significant near-surface gallium intersections within its Newmont Rare Earth Elements (REE) Deposit, with the unanticipated presence of gallium offering a potential advantage in the wake of China’s trade restrictions on the element which came into effect on August 1 2023.

Significant Intersections of Gallium

Historical drilling at the Salazar REE Project unveiled noteworthy intersections of gallium from near-surface locations, notably NSA119, which showcased an impressive 18 metres at 44 g/t Ga from just 4 metres deep, including 3 metres at 62 g/t Ga. Other intersections including NSA106, SRC001, and SRC003 further underscored the potential richness of gallium deposits within the Newmont REE Deposit’s vicinity.

Notably, all these intersections fall within the Indicated and Inferred Mineral Resource at the Newmont REE Deposit, which boasts an impressive 83 million tons at 1172 ppm total rare earth oxide (TREO).

Gallium’s Importance

Gallium, a soft silvery metal, plays a critical role in manufacturing processes for internet infrastructure, computer chips, semiconductors, and other electronic devices. Notably, it is used in the creation of gallium arsenide (GaAs) alloys, vital for semiconductor fabrication.

China’s decision to impose export restrictions on gallium products as of August 1, 2023, has added fuel to the interest in gallium as a strategic resource. China currently produces a staggering 98% of global gallium supply with trade restrictions raising concerns about potential supply shortages, particularly for industries heavily reliant on gallium for various applications.

Metallurgical test work carried out by Nagrom on drill samples has indicated the potential for the recovery of gallium alongside rare earths and scandium (Sc). Additionally, the presence of gallium in the saprolite near amphibolite in the basement suggests a unique association between gallium and REEs.

Future Prospects and Strategy

West Cobar Metals intends to continue testing for higher grades of gallium and to re-assay aircore drill holes to determine the potential to add gallium to extractable resource base of the Newmont Deposit.

The Company has said it will continue extraction of phase 1 which has proven successful, and further re-evaluate the REE development pathways.

West Cobar Managing Director, Matt Szwedzicki said, “While examining historical RC drilling assays we were intrigued to see elevated gallium concentrations. Encouragingly, historical metallurgical testwork undertaken by Nagrom shows that the Salazar clays are amenable to leaching with the recovery of REEs, Sc and Ga concentrates.”

“Based on the historic information, we will target higher grades of gallium through the re- assaying of existing drill holes at Newmont and evaluate the REE development pathway with co-product potential.”

WC1’s Australian Stock Exchange-listed share price is currently trading at 8.8 cents (8:48am UTC+ 8 hours).

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