The company also announced the start of extension drilling at two high-grade prospects, Dazzler and Iceman.
Critical metals explorer Northern Minerals (ASX:NTU,OTC Pink:NMEX) has released its Q1 2019 activities report, and has also announced the commencement of extension drilling at two high-grade prospects, Dazzler and Iceman.
Located in Western Australia, Northern’s flagship Browns Range rare earths project is currently being assessed via pilot plant for both technical and economic feasibility.
To date, the pilot plant, which has been in operation since late 2018, has produced a total of 28,068 kilograms of rare earth carbonate.
Northern has completed a maiden mineral resource for the Dazzler deposit, which is located within the Browns Range property. Testing at Dazzler estimates that the deposit’s grade is three times the average of the rest of Browns Range.
The recently announced reverse circulation and diamond core drilling programs will work to better identify and target the high-quality deposit at Dazzler, as well as Iceman.
“Following on from the recent high-grade maiden mineral resource estimate at Dazzler, we are very excited about this upcoming program and what impact these high-grade prospects might have on future production,” company CEO George Bauk said in a press release.
The rare earths company expects to release the results from the drill program sometime in June.
According to Northern, when operational, the Browns Range project will be the first and only large-scale producer of dysprosium outside of China.
The rare earth is playing a pivotal role in engine manufacturing for the electric vehicle sector, which is expected to steadily grow over the next decade.
In fact, the price of dysprosium increased by 20 percent in Q1 of this year alone and is likely to continue to trend higher.
For Northern, the market is ripe and ready for a new significant rare earth elements supplier.
“The pilot plant is continuing to assess the technical and economic feasibility of a full-scale commercial operation,” it states in its activities report.
“Northern Minerals is continuing to increase output from the pilot plant to steady state to assess the quality of the rare earth carbonate produced. Test work has identified areas of new knowledge that have been applied to the pilot plant.”
Shares of Northern were up 1.41 percent on Wednesday (May 1), trading at AU$0.07.
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Securities Disclosure: I, Georgia Williams, hold no direct investment interest in any company mentioned in this article.