Bauxite Resources (ASX:BAU) has upped the resource base at its Athena bauxite deposit in the Darling Range, Western Australia by 59% to 36.2 million tonnes.
Notably the resource has 32.8% (low temp) available alumina (41.8% total) and 2.8% reactive silica.
The Athena resource estimate is based on two phases of vacuum drilling completed in January 2014 and April/May 2014.
Athena is located on a number of private land holdings on exploration licences E70/3180 and E70/3890, between the townships of Wandering and Pingelly, 120 kilometres southeast of Perth.
Athena is a joint venture with a subsidiary of Shandong Bureau No.1 Institute for Prospecting of Geology & Minerals.
The resource is near surface, displaying a bauxite zone up to 13 metres and close to existing bauxite state agreement areas.
Even better for Bauxite Resources, under the JV, the Shandong subsidiary is to pay 100% of exploration costs to earn up to a 60% interest in resource.
BRL CEO Peter Canterbury said, "This is a great result for our joint venture with HD Mining. We have recently identified two new potential project areas under the HD Mining joint venture, Dionysus in the northern Darling Range, and Athena in the eastern Darling Range.
"Athena is situated approximately 20km north of the 15 million tonne Ceres resource announced in July 2012. Both resources are located in the eastern Darling Range and within the HD Mining JV. Combined the two resources total 51 million tonne and indicate to us that this may emerge as a new bauxite district."
"As recently announced, we have commissioned a scoping study and market evaluation investigation for our 100% owned Fortuna project which are due for completion in September 2014.
"It is envisaged many of the outcomes will also apply to Athena and Dionysus, placing us in a good position to explore the possible development of the JV projects. Our priority for now is on Fortuna, but BRL is delighted to be building a pipeline of bauxite projects."
"A further attraction of Athena and Dionysus is that under the farm-in arrangements, HD Mining fund 100% of all exploration and feasibility study works for a maximum 60% interest in the resource," he said.
The previous resource estimate announced in April 2014 stood at 22.7 million tonnes at 33.3% available alumina.
The 59% increase in bauxite resource base at Athena is a good outcome, particularly as Bauxite Resources is free carried for all exploration and feasibility study works by Shandong.
While Athena is not the priority, given the scoping study and market evaluation underway and due for the 100% owned Fortuna project in September 2014, the resource size is becoming significant.
Together with the Ceres resource announced in July 2012 takes the two deposits to 51 million tonnes and does indicate a new bauxite district has emerged in the Eastern Darling Range.
In addition, the study outcomes likely for Fortuna could also apply in part to Athena, and Dionysus which would assist in development of the joint venture projects as well.
The scoping study results comprise a key upcoming price catalyst for Bauxite Resources, given the positive macro market environment for bauxite.
Lest investors forget, shareholders will likely gain $0.04 a share by way of a capital return from its $42.1 million cash reserves as at 31 March 2014.
It is subject to shareholder approval. Even after the capital return there would be a $31 million cash balance post capital return with no debt (as at March 2014).
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