Exploring Alces Lake rare earths, gallium
Appia begins largest program ever at Saskatchewan project Metal Tech News – June 16, 2021
Last updated 6/15/2021 at 3:01pm
Appia Energy Corp. June 14 provided details of the largest exploration program so far at Alces Lake, a high-grade critical rare earth elements and gallium project in the Athabasca Basin area of northern Saskatchewan.
Since its first detailed exploration program at Alces Lake in 2017, Appia has identified 74 rare earth, gallium, and uranium bearing surface zones and occurrences at the project, suggesting a robust critical minerals system across the 35,400-acre (14,300 hectares) project. To date, less than 1% of this project area has been explored with diamond drilling.
While a resource estimate has yet to be calculated for the high-grade zones discovered, drill intercepts of 15.6 meters averaging 16.1% total rare earth oxides and 2.7 meters of 31% TREO indicate the project could host a resource with rare earth grades multiples above the 1.89% average for REE deposits worldwide.
What is even more exciting is four of the most critical rare earths – neodymium, praseodymium, dysprosium, and terbium – make up nearly 25% of the rare earths in samples collected at Alces Lake.
Surface sampling at the Ivan zone at Alces Lake returned grades as high as 49.6% TREO over 0.95 meters and 45.9% TREO over 1.85 meters. A boulder at Wilson, a zone about 100 meters southeast of Ivan, contained 30.8% TREO.
Surface sampling has also encountered high grades at six other zones – Bell, Charles, Danny, Dante, Hinge, and NW Wilson – near the Ivan discovery.
Drilling over the past couple of years is beginning to reveal that the high-grade rare earths identified on the surface continue undercover.
Highlights from three holes drilled at Ivan in 2019 include:
• 11.7 meters averaging 16.1% TREO, including a 2.7-meter section of 31% TREO in hole IV-19-003.
• 6.5 meters averaging 6.2% TREO, including a 1.1-meter section of 37.6% TREO in IV-19-011.
• 15.6 meters averaging 16.1% TREO, including a 7.9-meter section of 31.3% TREO in IV-19-012.
The 2019 drilling also discovered Richard, a new zone between Wilson and Charles. RI-19-001, the Richard discovery hole, cut 8.9 meters averaging 7.6% TREO.
Another hole drilled at Richard in 2020 cut 5.8 meters averaging 6.5% TREO.
In addition to expanding the high-grade rare earths at Alces Lake, the 2020 program encountered gallium, a critical metal used in next-generation smartphones and communication networks, light-emitting diodes (LEDs), thin-film solar cells, and medical devices.
"Gallium was found in naturally occurring high-concentrations on the property that far exceed current concentrations required for global production of gallium," said Appia Energy President Frederik Kozak.
An electron microprobe study conducted by the Saskatchewan Research Council showed the gallium at Alces Lake is in the same monazite mineral that carries the rare earths there, which bodes well for REE-gallium co-production.
This year, the company is fully funded to carry out the largest exploration program so far, which is slated to include:
• At least 6,000 meters of diamond drilling focused on discovering new high-grade zones and delineating the extent of known high-grade REE mineralization.
• A high-resolution aerial photography survey and digital elevation model over the entire property to aid in aerial geophysical survey calibration as well as providing accurate data for future resource evaluations.
• A project-wide, high-resolution radiometric and magnetic geophysical survey now underway.
• A ground magnetic and very low frequency electromagnetic geophysical survey designed to identify structures and geological trends associated with mineralization.
• Prospecting, mapping, and sampling to discover more high-grade REE zones and to better understand the geological controls o mineralization.
An all-weather camp has been constructed at Alces Lake so that exploration and drilling activities can continue well into the fall and winter.
In addition to the aggressive exploration program at Alces Lake, Appia is having helicopter-borne electromagnetic, horizontal magnetic gradiometer, and radiometric geophysical surveys flown over North Wollaston and the southern part of the Loranger – uranium projects in Saskatchewan's Athabasca Basin. These geophysical surveys are scheduled to begin in August.