The Wicheeda rare earths carbonatite deposit is located roughly 80 kilometers northeast of Prince George in North-Central BC.
Exploration company Defense Metals (TSXV:DEFN) has released an initial inferred mineral resource estimate for the Wicheeda rare earths carbonatite deposit.
The project is located roughly 80 kilometers northeast of Prince George in North-Central BC.
The estimate, released on Tuesday (January 8), pegs the asset’s inferred mineral resource at 11,370,000 tonnes averaging 1.96 percent light rare earth elements.
In addition to the mineral resource estimate, the company also announced the collection of a 30-tonne surface bulk sample from the site.
Defense Metals plans to transport the 30 tonnes of material by truck to SGS Canada’s Ontario-based metallurgical facility sometime this month. The sample will be used in a multi-phase program of bench-scale metallurgical testwork ahead of commissioning of larger-scale flotation pilot plant testing.
“We are pleased to have optioned this property for Defense Metals Corp. with years of work completed by the previous operator Spectrum Mining Corporation,” said Founder and CEO Maximilian Sali.
“The company will continue to rapidly advance this project starting by sending a 30 tonne bulk sample to SGS labs where they will immediately begin analyzing and testing the bulk sample,” he added.
The Wicheeda site was studied by Teck Exploration in the late 1980s, when rare earths mineralization was initially discovered.
From there, private company Spectrum Mining acquired the property in 2008. To date, Spectrum has carried out several exploration programs on the project, including diamond drilling at three zones.
Process testwork at Wicheeda in 2010/2011 produced a 42-percent rare earth oxide concentrate from a flotation process. The following process recoveries were achieved: cerium 82.5 percent, lanthanum 84.6 percent, neodymium 83.8 percent, niobium 57 percent and samarium 83.8 percent.
Defense Metals has since obtained the option to acquire 100 percent of Wicheeda, which is accessible by all-weather gravel roads, and is close to major infrastructure, including power transmission lines, railway and major highways.
Following the initial feed characterization work being done in Ontario, the company plans to move ahead with the next phase of development.
After a second flotation phase and a hydrometallurgical phase, the company will begin phase 4, which is rare earths separation testing using a pilot plant on site.
As its release says, “[s]eparation testwork is designed to produce separate LaCe, NdPr, and ‘heavies’ Sm to Lu+Y streams which allow determination of metallurgical recoveries, confirm reagent consumption, prove flowsheet operability and provide REE product samples for potential offtake partners.”
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Securities Disclosure: I, Georgia Williams, hold no direct investment interest in any company mentioned in this article.