Making a case for Appia’s monazite hosted rare earths
Appia Energy Corp. (CSE: API | OTCQB: APAAF) released news on January 25 that many investors were waiting for. The drilling results from the 18 hole, 2,500 meter, mid-2020 core program confirm the visual assessments of the core announced in October 2020 and provided valuable mineralization information.
Of the 18 holes drilled, 15 holes intersected the rare earths mineral system which is characterized by over 875 meter strike length, as deep as 340 meters from surface, open in all directions (3D space) and is in two sub-parallel trends.
Of importance to the deposit, the drilling confirmed that high-grade mineralization with grades consistently over 8 wt% total rare earth oxides (TREO) have been intersected over 145 meter strike length along the WRCB zone (Wilson, Richard, Charles and Bell zones combined). The WRCB zone outcrops at surface and starts as shallow as 10 meters beneath the surface, representing an easily accessible high-grade monazite asset.
The Richard zone drill holes (RI-20-004 and RI-20-005) were of particular significance in confirming the mineralization. Total rare earth oxides ranged from 6.546 wt% to 11.035 wt% in RI-20-004 and 5.268 wt% to 10.322 wt%. A third significant hole at HN-20-001 intersected three separate uranium occurrences; (a) 0.046 wt% U3O8 over 0.1 m at 265.5 m drill hole depth, (b) 0.046 wt% U3O8 over 0.1 m at 265.5 m drill hole depth, and (c) 0.046 wt% U3O8 over 0.1 m at 265.5 m drill hole depth. These results will require further exploration for continuation of both the rare earths system and these new uranium occurrences, according to Vice President of Exploration & Development, James Sykes.
“Saskatchewan is a very mineral-rich province. But in terms of rare earths, we were surprised to find world-class grades,” Tom Drivas, President and CEO said in August 2020 when interviewed by local Saskatchewan media. It is rare to find these elements in large quantities, but the company is finding a lot of them at the Alces Lake property in northern Saskatchewan, especially key electronics rare earths neodymium and praseodymium. When you see some of the pictures that have been posted by the company, it is quite a deposit with large monazite intrusions at surface.
The Alces Lake property has been called a world-class rare earths deposit. Between 2017 and 2020, the company has:
- Discovered 74 rare earth and uranium-bearing surface zones and occurrences;
- Completed a total of 64 short diamond drill holes (end of hole average 25 to 50 m depth) for a total of 2,276.2 meters;
- Completed a total of 14 long diamond drill holes (end of hole >50 m depth) for a total of 2,615.5 meters; and
- Has over 95% drill hole success rate intersecting rare earths-bearing pegmatite system
Of note, the high-grade WRCB zone exposed at surface continues to within 10 m of surface, presenting an easy mining scenario. It is especially relevant that to date, less than 1% of the property has been explored with diamond drilling, giving Appia significant future exploration prospectivity.
The Genesis of a North American Rare Earths Supply Chain?
Most readers are familiar with the “seismic shift” in the rare earths in the past year, as scarcity and security of supply have come to the fore. At the end of September 2020, President Trump signed an executive order regarding critical materials, declaring a national emergency as related to rare earths. Follow this with a December 1, 2020, China implementation of its Export Control Law, which is going to have impact on the export of rare earths from the country. The market is (and always has been) getting messy as the free market goes up against global dominator, China.
The Saskatchewan Research Council (SRC), announced in August 2020 plans to have an operational rare earths processing facility completed in late 2022. This probably took a lot of people by surprise, but the SRC has world renowned rare earths experts who have over 30 years experience in the sector.
The President and CEO of the SRC, Mike Crabtree, was recently quoted as saying that the SRC believes the demand is going to increase 20-fold because of people’s increasing reliance on renewable energy and electric vehicles. To their far-sighted credit, the SRC has now created the opportunity to build what will be the first of a kind processing plant, not just in Saskatchewan or Canada, but in North America as a whole.
The SRC has executed a number of Memorandums of Understanding with Canadian mining companies and will become a near-term go-to processor of rare earths in North America. Appia Energy is in their backyard.
The potential for Alces Lake development is compelling. The rare earths on the property are 100% hosted within monazite, which has proven simple extraction methods dating back to the 1950s. But more importantly, the monazite at Alces Lake occurs as isolated grains, 1 – 3 cm thin lenses and as isolated clusters with further metres thick massive clusters which have been found to be outcropping at surface. The monazite ore has critical rare earths neodymium (Nd), praseodymium (Pr), dysprosium (Dy), and terbium (Tb) which are necessary for the permanent magnet industry and represent approximately 85% of the potential value at Alces Lake.
There is much work yet to do on the Alces Lake property, but Appia is moving ahead with an active 2021 program. Notably, bench-scale testing on rock samples to produce a mixed rare earth carbonate with future potential neodymium and praseodymium oxides.
Step by step, the company is well on its way to being a leader in the global race to develop new rare earths supply sources outside of China. Watch this space!
Frederick Kozak is a Professional Engineer with extensive oil and gas, and international business experience and has more than 25 years involved in capital markets ... <Read more about Frederick Kozak>