Northern Minerals defines Australian heavy rare earths project progress
By Lawrence Williams
Although so far relatively small, Australia’s Northern Minerals is exploring what must be one of the most interesting rare earths occurrences anywhere in the world, on the border between Western Australia and the Northern Territory at its Brown’s Range deposit. What is particularly exciting about this find is that the rare earths occurrence is dominated by heavy rare earths (HREEs), of which the sector is in short supply and where high prices predominate. Most other REE occurrences outside China so far have been in light REE dominated deposits.
As Mineweb noted regarding deposit value when we first wrote about this project back in March, the initial findings showed that the economic rare earths mineralisation, contained in the xenotime host, are primarily yttrium (62.15%), dysprosium (9.87%), erbium (6.02%), ytterbium (5.34%),gadolinium (5.32%), light rare earths (5.04%), samarium (1.71%), and terbium (1.26%). But demonstrating the differences in valuations of the various elements, by value the breakdown is dysprosium (54.8%), yttrium 25.3%, ytterbium 25.3% and terbium 10.76% with smaller value percentages of europium, samarium and gadolinium. The light rare earths component is only 1.95% of the value despite being .just over 5% of the total composition.