Laboratory chemical results for Globe Metals & Mining’s (ASX: GBE) maiden reverse circulation drilling program at the Machinga Rare Earth Project in southern Malawi, show multiple mineralised zones containing high grades of heavy rare earth elements, and in particular the high value and much sought after element dysprosium (Dy2O3).
Globe’s in country exploration team has begun a program of reconnaissance ground radiometric and soil sampling to test other targets at Machinga including the Lingoni and Domasi radiometric anomalies.
This work will be conducted up to and over the wet season, in preparation for further drilling in 2011.
Mark Sumich, executive chairman, said the company was excited at the now demonstrated heavy rare earth potential at Machinga, and in particular, the very high grades of dysprosium that have been encountered.
A bankable feasibility study was commissioned in August 2009 and production is planned to commence in 2013 at a rate of 3,000tpa niobium metal, principally in the form of ferro-niobium.
Globe’s main focus is the multi-commodity (niobium, uranium, tantalum and zircon) Kanyika Niobium Project in central Malawi.
On 15 November, the company announced a $41 million injection of capital from East China Mineral Exploration and Development Bureau will see ECE acquire 51% of Globe. The funding will de-risk the Kanyika Project, enabling it to be funded through to production.
The discovery is rendered more important given the high grades of heavy rare earth mineralisation discovered near surface, including the in demand dysprosium. Intriguingly, Machinga North is only one of at least seven separate rare earth targets on the Machinga EPL for Globe.
Dysprosium is used, in conjunction with vanadium and other elements, in making laser materials. Because of dysprosium’s high thermal neutron absorption cross-section, dysprosium oxide-nickel cermets are used in neutron-absorbing control rods in nuclear reactors. Dysprosium-cadmium chalcogenides are sources of infrared radiation which is useful for studying chemical reactions. Because dysprosium and its compounds are highly susceptible to magnetization, they are employed in various data storage applications, such as in hard disks.
About 100 tonnes of dysprosium are produced worldwide each year, with 99% of that total produced in China. Dysprosium prices have climbed nearly sevenfold since 2003, to $53 a pound.
Dysprosium was first identified in 1886 by Paul Émile Lecoq de Boisbaudran, but was not isolated in pure form until the development of ion exchange techniques in the 1950s. Dysprosium is used for its high thermal neutron absorption cross-section in making control rods in nuclear reactors, for its high magnetic susceptibility to magnetization in data storage devices and as a component of Terfenol-D. Soluble dysprosium salts are mildly toxic, while the insoluble salts are considered non-toxic.