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- Arafura Resources received approval to mine, construct, and operate the Nolans Project
- Lanthanein Resources confirmed the discovery of new iron stones at the Lyons Project
- American Rare Earth completed 75% of the drilling program in the Halleck Creek Project
Rare earth minerals are an abundant group of 17 elements comprising lanthanides, scandium, and yttrium. Their economic sources are bastnasite, monazite, loparite, and lateritic ion-adsorption clays. Most of the time, they are found together in geologic deposits. Their average concentration in the earth’s crust varies from 150 to 220 parts per million (ppm).
Rare earth minerals are also called rare earth oxides. They have applications in several sectors like portable electronics, electric vehicles, catalysts, defense equipment, etc.
China has the largest reserves of rare earth elements, followed by Vietnam, Brazil, and Russia. China was also the largest producer of rare earth elements in 2021. The United States, Myanmar, Australia, and Thailand were the next respective major producers.
Rare Earth Metals Market
In 2021, the demand for rare earth markets was dominated by the magnets sector, which majorly consumes neodymium, cerium, and dysprosium. It was followed by the catalyst, glass, and polishing sectors, which consume lanthanum, cerium, erbium, and ytterbium. With the emerging trend of electric vehicles, the application of rare earth metals will further increase.
It is expected that the global market for rare earth metals will generate around US$9.6 billion by 2026 with a CAGR of 12.3%. The growth is expected due to the increased usage of permanent magnets in sectors like healthcare, defense equipment, precision-guided weapons, stealth technology, etc.
Considering the current market conditions, let’s look at some ASX rare earth stocks which have performed well in the last 12 months and delivered double- and triple-digit annual returns.
Data source: ASX as of 8 December 2022
Arafura Resources Ltd. (ASX: ARU)
Arafura Resources is a rare earth elements exploration company headquartered in Perth.
Arafura provided a major update on the Nolans project last month. GR Engineering services completed the updated beneficiation engineering study. The company made progress on the design of non-process infrastructure. Front-end engineering and design (FEED) works on the hydrometallurgical plant were also finalised.
Along with it, the company submitted its Mine Management Plan for approval to the Northern Territory Government. The mining inventory production schedule resulted in a life-of-mine (LOM) of 38 years, which included a two-year ramp period. The average production of NdPr oxide is expected to be 4400 tpa.
In mid-November 2022, Arafura received approval to mine, construct, and operate the Nolans project from the Northern Territory Government.
Lanthanein Resources Ltd. (ASX: LNR)
Mineral exploration company Lanthanein Resources focuses on discovering critical minerals of rare earth elements (RRE) in Western Australia and South Australia. The company has planned high-impact exploration programs for 2022 to support the future decarbonisation of the global economy.
In October 2022, the company intersected consistent ironstones at four prospects in its first drill program at the Lyons Project. The samples were sent for rush analysis. RC drilling was completed for 53 drillholes and drilled 3,510 metres. Lanthanein also received a funding of AU$200,000 from the Department of Mines Industry Regulation and Safety (DMIRS) to investigate rare earth elements carbonatites in Mt. Weld deposits.
In the latest announcement last month, LNR confirmed the discovery of new ironstones in 41 new targets at the Lyons Project. It will commence the sampling program shortly.
American Rare Earths Ltd. (ASX: ARR)
American Rare Earths Ltd. is an Australia-based exploration company focusing on the discovery and development of rare earth minerals in the United States and Australia. It aims to supply critical minerals for renewable energy, green technology, and electric vehicles. The company owns 100% of the La Paz rare earth project in Arizona.
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The company announced a substantial increase in its exploration target for the Halleck Creek Project in September 2022. The updated exploration targets highlighted the presence of 1.01 to 1.27 billion tonnes of rare earth mineralised rocks with concentrations ranging between 2.245 ppm and 2.807 ppm.
By 24 November 2022, ARR had completed 75% of the drilling program in the Halleck Creek Project. A total of 25 RC holes were drilled, and around 2516 samples were collected and shipped for analysis. The geological data of the site showed exceptional values of rare earth oxides.
ABx Group Ltd. (ASX: ABX)
ABx group is an Australia-based company with interests in rare earth elements. The company has projects in Tasmania, Deep Leads, Queensland, and New South Wales.
The group announced in September 2022 that it had received assay results of high-grade rare earth elements (REE) at Deep Leads. The results expanded the lateral extent of REE mineralisation by 230%. The site hosts the true ionic adsorption clay type of REE deposits. The group had introduced new drilling technologies to develop the next campaign.
The ABx group announced its maiden JORC-compliant Mineral Resource Estimate for the Deep Leads-Rubble Mound Area in November 2022. It estimated nearly 3.94 million tonnes of total rare earth cerium oxide at an average of 655 ppm. ABx also identified the channels of high-grade REE mineralisation that can increase the resources.
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