Peak Resources (ASX: PEK) aims to develop into a medium sized mining house based on exploration and development.
The company holds an extensive portfolio with the main focus the Ngualla Rare Earth Project in southern Tanzania. Additionally, Peak holds a number of gold projects comprising a mix of brownfield, greenfield and advanced exploration prospects within Tanzania and Western Australia.
Peak Resources (ASX: PEK) is a company on the move led by a management and board team that turned a virgin rare earth discovery by the company a couple of years ago in Africa into one of the largest and highest grade new rare earth discoveries in recent years.
The latest positive news flow the Ngualla Rare Earth Project in southern Tanzania, (which is already drawing comparisons to Lynas Corporations' (ASX: LYC) Mt Weld), is some encouraging preliminary metallurgical testwork.
The highlight is non–optimised initial acid leach test work on a composite sample of weathered mineralisation leaches 88% of rare earths, with further leach test work now having been prioritised.
This work is to evaluate the possibility of a relatively simple processing route to produce a high grade rare earth concentrate for this higher grade, near surface portion of the Ngualla rare earth mineralisation.
Peak said that simple wet table characterisation of primary fresh rock rare earth mineralisation produces positive beneficiation results in preliminary sighter tests. The company remains well funded with $5.7 million cash in the bank at the end of 2011.
Mineralogical studies at a glance
Mineralogical studies have shown that bastnasite and synchysite are the main rare earth minerals and occur within a barite – iron oxide hydroxide lithology in the weathered zone and a carbonate rich lithology with barite in fresh carbonatite.
Alumina is negligible and there are no clay minerals. Uranium and thorium levels are very low at 17ppm and 37ppm average respectively within +1% REO mineralisation in the Southern Rare Earth Zone. The rare earth carbonates are predominantly liberated, with grain sizes between 10 and 120 microns.
Beneficiation of primary mineralisation
Initial beneficiation studies on a bulk diamond core sample of fresh rock rare earth mineralisation from the Southern Rare Earth Zone returned encouraging upgrades of from wet table test work. This initial basic baseline test work succeeded in concentrating 84% of the head feed mineralisation, with a grade of 1.69% REO, 290% (almost 3 x’s) to 4.87% REO.
The concentrate is contained within just 34% of the mass of the original feed material (an alternative presentation of these initial results is that 66% of the original mass is able to be discarded for the loss of just 16% of the mineralisation).
Although this single stage preliminary beneficiation characterisation work has not immediately produced a commercial grade concentrate, it has demonstrated the potential for simple gravity separation to form an important component of a multi – part processing stream for this important second style of rare earth mineralisation at Ngualla.
News flow from Ngualla - including maiden JORC
Peak has forecast that the highly anticipated JORC Resource from Ngualla will be delivered in the March quarter 2012, prepared by consultants Hellman and Schofield.
There will also be a flow of drilling results in the short term, with 16 reverse circulation holes from the Southern Zone and 19 holes from the Northern Zone pending - and expected within weeks.
Northern Zone heats up
Just last month from the Northern Zone, Peak delivered some niobium – tantalum and phosphate highlights which included:
- 24 metres at 1.12% Nb2O5 and 226ppm Ta2O5 from 4 metres;
- 28 metres at 20.4% phosphate from surface;
- 52 metres at 0.48% Nb2O5 and 108ppm Ta2O5 from surface; and
- 20 metres at 0.45% Nb2O5 and 103ppm Ta2O5 from 56 metres.
Where the story becomes even more interesting in this Northern Zone is that they include the highest grade niobium intersection returned to date. More results are pending for the Northern Zone which includes data from the remaining 19 holes of the reconnaissance program.
Highlighting the prospectivity of the area, the grade, near surface nature and potential extent of this second style of mineralisation provide the potential for more high grade near surface rare earth intersections.
Southern Zone broad intersections
Along with the Northern Zone results producing some very strong numbers recently, Peak also delivered last month a new set of near surface drilling results from an additional ten holes at the project, which have extended the Southern Rare Earth Zone 200 metres in a north - south direction. Adding further to the potential it still remains open to both the north and south.
Rare earth peak results from January include 128 metres at 4.17% REO from surface; 75.70 metres at 5.82% REO from surface, including 10.74 metres at 10.1% REO; and 39.16 metres at 4.65% REO from surface, including 8.30 metres at 7.66% REO.