The Easter REE news catch-up

It’s Easter – the telephone has stopped ringing, the emails are drying up and the meetings don‘t start again for a day or two. Time to catch up on all that REE news that we might have overlooked in our daily rush.

First, breaking news. Bloomberg is reporting that Australia’s Lynas Corp (ASX:LYC) will be barred from importing REE into Malaysia pending a month-long investigation into the health and safety implications of the processing plant being built by Lynas in the South-east Asia nation. However, Lynas can continue construction work on its $US220 million plant in Pahang state. Industry minister Mustapa Mohamed was quoted by the agency saying Malaysia would not compromise on the issues of health and safety. There have been protests in the state over fears the plant could leak radiation.

Dateline: Nebraska. The Lincoln Journal-Star reports that Quantum Rare Earth Developments Corp (TSX.V:QRE) now has a drill rig on site at its Elk Creek niobium-REE project. The paper said the company was seeking, through initial drilling, to determine the boundaries of the ore deposit. Quantum acquired the project in May 2010 after buying a private Nebraskan company, Elk Creek Resources Corp, which had an option over Elk Creek. The ground has a historic, non-compliant result of 105 drill holes indicating 39.4 million tonnes at 0.82 per cent niobium. Previous drill holes have also intercepted REE lanthanides. Some news reports started with the fact that the area has not been drilled for 25 years. The development also attracted the attention of station KHAS-TV and the Associated Press, both reports concentrating on the fact that the US imports all its niobium, having not produced significant amounts since the 1950s. (Quantum also owns the Laverton REE project in Australia located just 45km from Lynas Corp’s Mt Weld mine.)

From Vancouver, Canadian International Minerals Inc (TSX.V:CIN) says it’s starting exploration on five of its properties, some of which have REE targets. At the Carbo niobium-REE project in British Columbia, 8okm northeast of Prince George, nine potential drill targets have been defined with geochemistry indicating barium and europium with praseodymium and lanthanum also present at one prospect. At Deadhorse Creek, the company will be following historic excavations done in 1986 by Unocal (Molycorp’s predecessor) to target zirconium, hafnium and REE. At Prairie Lake, field work has located multiple occurrences of alkaline rock with what the company says are significant REE values.

On the Australian scene, Black Fire Minerals (ASX:BFE) says it is well advanced with technical and legal due diligence on acquiring the Longonjo REE property in Angola. As soon as those processes are completed, the company will start what it calls a substantial drilling program. Back in February, RareMetalBlog reported the Black Fire move, noting that previous exploration had identified an REE anomaly with assays peaking at 1.68 per cent lanthanum, 3.04 per cent cerium and 0.3 niobium. There is also thorium and phosphate. The anomaly covers 2km by 1.5km and is hosted in carbonatite. The new REE project is located near the town of Longonjo, 600km southeast of the capital, Luanda. It has nearby a recently recommissioned railway which runs to the port of Benguela.

At the other end of Africa, Morocco’s mining and petroleum ministry is seeking foreign mining companies interested in exploring occupied Western Sahara where airborne geophysical surveys have identified the presence of REE and uranium, according to the Paris-based newsletter Africa Mining Intelligence. The former Spanish Sahara, the sovereignty of which still a subject of dispute between Rabat and the Polisario Front which wants independence, is said by the Moroccan authorities to contain likely deposits of light rare earths.

Footnote: It is the quarterly reporting season on the Australian Securities Exchange and, by next Friday, all resources companies must outline their activities and progress over the three months to March 31m, along with their cash reserves. We’ll be posting any interesting disclosures as the week progresses.