Explorer WA1 Resources (ASX:WA1) Gains 500% On New Niobium-Rare Earths Discovery At West Arunta In WA

Explorer WA1 Resources (ASX:WA1) gains 500% on new niobium-rare earths discovery at West Arunta in WA
Only two holes had been drilled in the region border prior to this
Rio is also actively exploring region, alongside ASX juniors Encounter and Norwest
On Wednesday last week, the share price of explorer WA1 Resources (ASX:WA1) jumped a barely believable 420%.
The junior explorer finished the week up 500%, from 14c to 84c per share.
Why the rocket? Well, WA1 hit thick, high-grade niobium in its first hole in a remote, lightly explored, but highly mineralised region (we’ll get to that in a minute).
Niobium is mainly used to make steel better, but also has growing uses in lithium-ion batteries, intelligent glass, solar panels, 5G tech, and nuclear energy.
Ferroniobium metal (65% Nb) currently sells for ~US$45,000/t.
WA1’s only drillhole into the P2 target, at the West Arunta project in WA, pulled up 54m at 0.62% niobium, 0.18% rare earths and 3.85% phosphorus from 162m.
The 216m-long hole ended in 2m at 1.22% Nb2O5, 0.22% TREO, and 5.73% P2O5.
Those are good numbers, especially for a maiden drillhole.
For reference, there are three major niobium mines in the world; two are very high grade (between 1% and 2.5% ore grade), while the third sits at around 0.5%.
Meanwhile, the Panda Hill niobium project, previously owned by Cradle Resources (ASX:CXX), had an ore reserve grade of 0.68%, while Globe Metals and Mining’s (ASX:GBE) advanced Kanyika project has a resource of 68Mt at a grade of 0.283%.
The fact that WA1’s hole finishes in material grading 1.22% means this thing could be getting better at depth.
P2 also extends for 3km and has significant future exploration potential, WA1 says.
Furthermore, because WA1 was hunting for deep IOCGs (iron oxide copper gold deposits) they didn’t assay the top +70m of the hole.
Managing director Paul Savich told Stockhead the highest-grade stuff in a lot of rare earths deposits is in the weathered material at the top.
“We knew we knew nothing about the belt, so it came as a surprise but not a complete shock that the mineralisation we were chasing wasn’t there, and it ended up being something else,” he says.
When we look at REE deposits like [Lynas Corp (ASX:LYC)] Mt Weld, [Northern Minerals (ASX:NTU)] Browns Range or [RareX (ASX:REE)] Cummins Range, the highest grade portions are usually in the weathered material at the top.
That’s the part of the hole we didn’t assay, so we have submitted that [top 70m] to the lab.
“But regardless of that, this high-grade niobium in the fresh rock is telling us something exciting.
“We have so much to learn. The only way to figure this thing out is to do some more geophysics to refine the targeting, and then do more drilling [after the wet season] early next year.”