The drilling is designed to convert more of the Longonjo weathered zone inferred mineral resource estimate into measured and indicated mineral resource and then into proved and probable ore reserves on completion of further technical studies for financing purposes. An updated mineral resource estimate is expected in May 2020.
Dave Hammond, executive director, said: "This is a great start to the DFS drilling programme and these initial results confirm the continuous and consistent nature of this weathered blanket style of mineralisation from the surface.
"We expect to be able to upgrade significant amounts of currently inferred mineral resource to the higher indicated JORC category, thereby extending the current mine life with further studies.
"We look forward to reporting many more results from this large drilling programme that will include the testing of some potentially high-grade targets, extensions to the known mineralisation and an area of high-grade fresh rock hosted mineralisation that could add a further dimension to the project."
The programme is expected to lead to an increase in the current mine life of nine years as indicated by the November 2019 preliminary feasibility study.
Drilling will also test several high-grade targets, which have the potential to provide sources of high-grade NdPr material and also drill into the fresh material immediately underlying the shallow weathered zone in the current mine plan.
The new results show all drill holes intersected mineralisation from the surface and include several high-grade intersections.
The continuity of mineralisation from surface demonstrated by the 50m x 100m infill drilling is expected to enable much of this area of inferred mineral resource estimate for the weathered zone mineralisation to be upgraded to Indicated JORC category on completion of a revised mineral resource estimate.
Several of the new drill intersections are high-grade and are expected to improve the grade of the current mineral resource estimate in this area as well as category in these areas immediately adjacent to the PFS open pit.
To date, a total of 57 holes for 1,591m have been completed of the estimated 7,000m DFS drilling programme. Samples from a further 41 drill holes have been despatched for analysis and drilling operations have recommenced on site after the Christmas and New Year holiday period. The company is to mobilise a second drill rig this month is expected to be completed in March to support a revised mineral resource estimate by May 2020.
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