Cobra Resources’ Boland prospect emerges as world-class rare earth contender

26 March 2024 16:23

Cobra Resources plc (LSE:COBR) has announced preliminary results from recent sonic core drilling at the Boland ionic rare earths prospect, confirming high-grade concentrations and massive scale, positioning it as a potential world-class source of magnet and heavy rare earths, with exceptional potential for in situ recovery.


Figure 1: Aerial photograph of the Boland wellfield with significant intersections

Boland prospect potential

Cobra’s confirmation of ionic rare earth element (REE) metallurgical recoveries at the Boland prospect in 2023, coupled with recent sonic core drilling, has bolstered the company’s assertion of high-grade concentrations and the amenability of mineralisation to low-cost extraction via in situ recovery (ISR), while also highlighting the prospect’s exceptional province-scale potential.

Key findings include high-grade concentrations across three mineralisation zones, significant grades in geological formations with high permeabilities suitable for ISR, and modelled mineralised units supporting substantial scale, collectively underscoring the prospect’s significance and viability for future development.

High-grade concentration confirmation

Preliminary findings from sonic core drilling at Boland reinforce Cobra’s belief in the high-grade concentrations within the area.

Three distinct zones of mineralisation have been identified, with each exhibiting notable concentrations of Total Rare Earth Oxides (“TREO”), including Magnet Rare Earth Oxides (“MREO”) and Heavy Rare Earth Oxides (“HREO”).

Notably, Zone 3 boasts a particularly high grade, with a TREO concentration of 1,538 ppm.


Table 1: 2023 averaged metallurgical recoveries of magnet rare earths achieved in ANSTO sighter testwork according to mineralised palaeochannel horizon and the ranked ISR recovery potential

Support for in situ recovery

The geological formations at Boland reveal high permeabilities, suggesting the potential suitability for low-cost extraction methods like ISR.

ISR, a method traditionally employed in uranium mining, offers distinct advantages in terms of scale, cost-effectiveness, and environmental sustainability.

The geology of Boland appears uniquely suited to ISR, enhancing its appeal as a mining prospect, with this characteristic, combined with the high-grade assays and favourable particle size distribution analyses, indicating the feasibility of ISR operations in the region.

Implications for scalability

The integration of downhole geophysical data with geological interpretations offers a robust framework for assessing the scalability of the Boland prospect.

The extensive mapping of mineralised zones and ongoing data collation across Cobra’s land tenure signify a concerted effort towards realising the full potential of the discovery.

Simultaneously, 233 samples collected from 13 drill holes spanning the southern and northern regions of Boland are currently undergoing analysis in the laboratory to validate and refine the geological model for a near-term maiden mineral resource estimation.

Next steps

Moving forward, Cobra Resources‘ has outlined several crucial steps in their exploration and development strategy, including preparing samples for mineralogy studies to gain insights into the adsorption characteristics of REEs and conducting assays on sieve sizes to understand the distribution of REEs.

Additionally, the re-analysis of historic pulp samples from the Boland target area aims to validate the geological model.

The company has strategically drilled, cased, and screened five holes with slotted PVC screens, positioned to coincide with Zone 3 mineralisation, facilitating hydrology studies and future pilot studies, while also commencing hydrology testing to collect water quality and yield data for environmental baselines and productivity evaluation.

Select core zones sent to Australia’s Nuclear Science and Technology Organisation (ANSTO) for column ISR testing are anticipated to confirm mineralization suitability for ISR mining, with resulting pregnant solutions aiding Watercycle Technologies in advancing flow sheet development through membrane desorption.

CEO commentary

Rupert Verco, CEO of Cobra Resources, expressed enthusiasm, stating, “These results are sensational! It is pleasing to see our value proposition materialise, and these results, coupled with the excellent metallurgical recoveries achieved last year, demonstrate Boland is not only unique but world class.”

He emphasised the significance of in situ recovery, noting its superiority from scale, cost, and environmental standpoints, positioning the company as industry leaders in applying this method to ionic rare earth mineralisation.

“The value of in situ recovery cannot be overestimated. It is the preferred mining method from scale, cost and environmental perspectives and we are now positioned to be industry leaders in applying this form of mining long used for uranium to ionic rare earth mineralisation,” he said.

Additionally, Verco highlighted Boland’s uniqueness, affirming its comparability to Brazilian projects in grade, scale, and metallurgy, with a distinct advantage in amenable geology for ISR.

“Whilst the Brazilian ionic rare earth projects have captured market interest, our results are comparable in grade, scale and metallurgy and the Boland prospect’s advantage is the unique geology that makes it amenable to ISR. Our forward work programme is designed to demonstrate the project’s commercial advantage as we continue to define scale, grade upside, and highlight the value of ISR,” he stated.

COBR’s London Stock Exchange-listed share price is currently trading at 1.17 GBX (4.15pm UTC+ 8 hours).

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