Askari’s NT Barrow Creek lithium project looking like a dual rare earths play

Wed 25 Jan 23, 10:51am (AEST)
A red kangaroo standing in grasslands in the Flinders Ranges National Park in the Australian Outback
Source: iStock

Key Points

  • Assay results for rare earths at Barrow Creek show 0.45% Total Rare Earth Oxides (TREO)
  • Other hits include reads up to 0.214% rare earths, not particularly unusual given rare earth’s tendency to mineralise in a dispersed fashion
  • 2023 follow up work for REE potential on the cards

ASX-listed polymetals explorer Askari Metals (ASX:AS2) revealed its NT-based Barrow Creek Lithium Project is prospective for rare earths on Wednesday. 

“The Barrow Creek Project still has a lithium focus, but we will now widen our radar to include rare earth elements here as well,” Askari’s exploration chief Johan Lambrechts said on Wednesday.

The company’s 100% owned project is located in the ‘Arunta pegmatite province’ of the top end with fertile lithium-caesium-tantalum pegmatite instances mapped (caesium and tantalum are two minerals almost always found alongside hard-rock pegmatite lithium). 

Askari first found a field of pegmatite outcrops at Barrow back in September 2022. It was, at the time, Askari’s second lithium play. 

It has since picked up more lithium acreage in the Pilbara last November, as well as moving into Africa at its Uis Lithium Project.

Rare earth surprise 

Today’s rare earth assay results come from field reconnaissance work that was otherwise looking for lithium. No drilling was conducted, implying rock chip samples were presented for analysis. 

Rare earth grades are hard to determine given that dispersion density of the minerals can be different across different types of hard-rock settings. Rare earths can also be held in ionic clays, and in both instances, almost always occur alongside radioactive elements monazite and thorium. 

Generally, most junior Rare Earth Element (REE) projects in Australia encounter grades around 0.50%.

“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,” exploration VP Lambrechts added. 

So what did Askari find? 

In samples, Askari hit the following.Note the term Total Rare Earth Oxides (TREO) is used to refer to a batch of different REEs: 

  • 0.45% TREO 

  • 0.214% TREO 

  • 0.124% TREO 

  • 0.123% TREO 

  • 0.10% TREO  

While the results fall short of hitting 0.50% concentrations, consider rare earths are highly conducive to downstream metallurgy practices and companies can often produce concentrates superior in nature to feedstock at grades far lower. 

At its Splinter Rock project in WA, OD6 Metals (ASX:OD6) hit similar results last November

Next steps 

Before the company can march headlong too much further, it must satisfy compliance related to First Owners’ access rights. 

Follow-up work is planned to test for REE potential at the South-Central portion of Barrow’s acreage, from where results announced today were pulled. 

This almost definitely guarantees more mapping, sampling, and drilling. 

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Disclaimer: Market Index helps small-cap ASX listed companies connect with Australian investors through clear and concise articles on key developments. Askari was a client at the time of publishing. All coverage contains factual information only and should not be interpreted as an opinion or financial advice.


Written By

Jonathon Davidson

Finance Writer

Jonathon is a journalism graduate and avid market watcher with exposure to governance, NGO and mining environments. He was most recently hired as an oil and gas specialist for a trade publication.

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