Located 160km south east of Halls Creek in northern Western Australia, the Browns Range Project (the Project) is positioned to become the first significant dysprosium producer outside of China.
Following a review in 2016, Northern Minerals developed a new business plan (ASX announcement 4 February 2016) to support the Project’s pathway to production. The plan separates the Project into three development stages and allows Northern Minerals to test the process and market the mixed RE carbonate product, then develop the Project to bankable feasibility study (BFS) level and finally build the full scale operation.
Browns Range Pilot Plant
The company commenced the production of heavy rare earth carbonate in late 2018 as part of a three year pilot assessment of economic and temporarily technical feasibility of a larger scale development at Browns Range.
Northern Minerals’ tenure around the Browns Range Project covers an area of approximately 3595km2 and is centred on the Browns Range Dome, a major geological feature covering approximately 1,500km2. The Dome is located in the northern Tanami region, within both Western Australia (WA) and the Northern Territory (NT).
This massive landholding is highly prospective for heavy rare earth (HRE) mineralisation with outstanding potential for further discoveries. Northern Minerals’ exploration success to date has been exceptional, with six out of 13 targets converted to mineral resources and many more highly prospective targets identified.
Northern Minerals has 100% ownership and marketing rights for all but three of the tenements covering the Browns Range Dome. The other three tenements are a Joint Venture with Toro Energy, where Northern Minerals is earning up to an 80% interest.
Since 2009, exploration by the Company has been focussed on the WA tenements, which has led to the discovery and completion of HRE Mineral Resource estimates at Wolverine, Gambit West, Gambit, Area 5, Cyclops and Banshee (see Mineral Resources page). From these deposits Wolverine, Gambit West, Gambit and Area 5 all have Ore Reserve estimates.
All six of the current JORC compliant Mineral Resources remain open at depth and to varying degrees, along strike, indicating further potential to increase the current Mineral Resources. Additional drilling has only been limited by funding, with each deposit flagged for further drilling as a key strategy to increase the Browns Range Project’s mine life.
Limited drilling in 2014 identified a number of new targets, in particular, the Polaris prospect which produced several encouraging results. Drilling at Polaris was highlighted by a single hole (BRR0460) which intersected several mineralised intervals, including 2m @ 0.69% Total Rare Earth Oxide1 (TREO1), 11m @ 0.31% TREO1 and 7m @ 0.28% TREO1 .The results at Polaris are characterised by broad zones with a high ratio of heavy rare earth oxide2 (HREO2) which indicates the potential for a significant sized mineralised system.
The 10 priority targets currently identified within Browns Range WA, include six prospects which have returned several significant drill intercepts from limited drilling, and require follow-up drilling. This includes Area 5 North, Mystique, Nightcrawler, Dazzler, Polaris and Havok. Targets that are yet to be drill tested include the Rogue and Longshot prospects.
A recent targeting exercise completed by the Exploration team has identified 170 conceptual targets within the Company’s tenement package in the Browns Range Dome region. These prospects are now being prioritised and will be systematically explored.