Askari uncovers rare earths during NT lithium hunt


2023-01-25 10:12:38

Battery metal explorer Askari Metals has uncovered a mixed bag of anomalous rare earths whilst hunting for lithium at its Barrow Creek project in NT’s coveted Arunta Block.

In unchartered terrain, the company mobilised boots on ground to chase up a swarm of prospective lithium-caesium-tantalum – ‘LCT’ pegmatites within central NT’s Arunta pegmatite province. The company says it targeted a suite of rocks in the south-central part of the project known to host the lucrative intrusions.

Whilst lithium is the primary target for the company’s exploration endeavours, rock chip sampling over the LCT pegmatite swarm returned multiple eye-catching results including 4553 ppm total rare earth oxide, or “TREO” and another tipping the scales at 2143 ppm TREO.

One regularly reads about results in the one to two thousand ppm TREO range, but to have one result at 4553 ppm TREO and another at 2143 ppm TREO is extraordinary, especially considering rare earth elements were not the target of work being conducted.

Earlier forays for the company to Barrow Creek identified fertile pegmatites with lithium values of up to 817 ppm lithium oxide in the north-east and values of up to 456 ppm in the south-east.

The previously mapped pegmatite field in the north-east area of the project measures a larger 4.8km by 3.8km, however the south-central field appears to outcrop more extensively and continuously whilst exhibiting similar mineralogy.

Askari observed pegmatites varying in widths from 5m plus at surface and expects their size to swell at depth.

The explorer also encountered significant tourmaline mineralisation in the pegmatites and says the presence of tourmaline can be associated with tin and tungsten mineralisation — both of which are ‘pathfinder’ elements to lithium mineralisation in the interpreted setting.

Up until now, the south-central portion of Askari’s Barrow Creek tenure has remained enticingly unexplored due to its relatively inaccessible terrain. Undeterred, Askari sees the limited exploration as an opportunity to make a significant discovery.

The Arunta Block has garnered increasing notoriety after WA1 Resources scored a significant rare earths discovery at its West Arunta project just over the border in WA last year that spear-headed a modern-day land grab. The discovery sent the company’s stock price on a tear to a high of over $3 a piece, some way above the 13.5c recorded earlier.

Askari’s share price has been on a run since late last year, spiking to 74 cents earlier this week on the back of a string of strong results from its lithium hunt in Namibia and copper chase in the Kimberley. With its latest results from its Barrow Creek project in the Arunta Block, the company looks set to add rare earths to its grab bag of battery metals.

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