Rare earths player Mount Ridley Mines starts 2023 with a bang

Thu 12 Jan 23, 1:57pm (AEST)
A pindan dirt road stretches into the outback horizon like a giant petroglyph beneath a blue sky; no trees are visible for miles aroind
Source: iStock

Key Points

  • Mount Ridley moving towards a joint ore reserve committee (JORC) estimate (the minimum standard for reporting on exploration results) for its rare earths project
  • The company is still waiting for over 2,800 assay samples from Stage 2 drilling late last year
  • The company will also commence metallurgical tests this year, indicating it is building towards a Pre-Feasibility Study

ASX small cap Mount Ridley Mines (ASX: MRD) has kicked off a 50,000 metre aircore resource drilling campaign at its Mt. Ridley Rare Earths Project in WA. 

This 2023 drilling campaign marks the third stage  of exploration at the project. The first drill targets are still being decided. 

The third stage is designed to allow for the company to create a JORC-compliant Mineral Resource Estimate (MRE) for its flagship Rare Earth Elements (REE) asset. 

Note on assay result delivery 

Stage 2 of the program saw 4,251 metres drilled using an aircore drill rig (a cheaper option that collects rock chips from underground). 

At the time, the company intended to kick off resource drilling in October, but was delayed into January.

Over 2,800 samples from Stage 2 are still being processed by the lab team at ALS (ASX: ALQ).

Shareholders should note long delays at assay laboratories in WA continue to impact the sector borne from labour shortages and heightened exploration activity following the first year of COVID-19.

Metallurgical tests to start this year 

The company will also kick off metallurgical testing of its product this year to move towards a pre-feasibility study in the coming months and years. 

Once testwork results are known, an exploration company can begin devising bankable calculations on future revenues. 

“The key tasks for 2023 include resource delineation drilling and advancing metallurgical studies towards the development of a flow sheet for the extraction of rare earths,” Mount Ridley boss Peter Christie said. 

“The company is well positioned to fund these work programmes with cash and liquid security reserves of approximately $5.5 million.” 

High-grade hits known on-site 

In October last year, the company highlighted assays from four drill holes of particular interest: 

  • 23m @ 0.36% TREO from 6 metre depth 

  • 15m @ 0.21% TREO from 15 metre depth 

  • 47m @ 0.15% TREO from 33 metre depth 

  • 12m @ 0.21% TREO from 45 metre depth 

Companies reporting REEs tend to clump trace elements into parts per million (ppm) divisions, with Total Rare Earth Oxides (TREO) used to describe a number of metals. 

Results are broken into ppm due to the fact hard-rock rare earths rarely accumulate together in deposits like other base metals. Certain types of clays can host REEs which typically turn over slightly higher grades.

Mount Ridley believes  the average magnet REO (MREO) quantity sits at 26%. MREOs include minerals like neodymium, praseodymium, dysprosium and terbium. 

MREO metals have diverse applications, but looking at decarbonisation thematics, consider that over 600 kilograms of Neodymium-Praseodymium (among the highest value MREOs) is needed for a single wind turbine engine. 

The results from October found  high-value Neodymium-Praseodymium (NdPr) at the Mt. Ridley project at relatively shallow depths under 50 metres.


  • Mt. Ridley is a small-cap stock with a market cap of $42.8 million

  • The company’s shares are “penny stocks” at 0.6c. 

  • The company reported cash and “liquid security reserves” of $5.5 million on its balance sheet on Thursday.

  • Over the past 12 months, its share price has sunk -31.25% 

  • Year to date, its share price has risen 10%. 

  • The stock is highly illiquid, as evidenced by the chart below.

A look at Mount Ridley's six month charts
A look at Mount Ridley's six month charts


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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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