London-listed Pensana reports that field exploration activities have resumed at its Coola project, which is 16 km north of the company’s Longonjo rare earth project, in Angola.
Last year, exploration work identified highly anomalous technology metals including rare earths, scandium and fluorite in soils surrounding the 7 500 km2 Coola project.
The latest information indicates that the Coola carbonatite has an enriched distribution of heavy rare earths compared with the light rare earth elements, including neodymium-praseodymium (NdPr) found at Longonjo.
Work is ongoing to establish the extent of the mineralisation and confirm its distribution.
This will help to identify how Coola may complement NdPr production from Longonjo.
Heavy rare earths are less abundant and are important in a range of clean energy technological applications including permanent magnets, Pensana notes.
Scandium in Coola’s soils is highly anomalous with most values at more than 80 ppm and exceptional values of over 200 ppm.
Work is under way to identify the mineral host and the extent of mineralisation.
Scandium is used in alloys, particularly with aluminium, for light-weighting applications in industries including aerospace manufacturing, says Pensana.
In 2020, Pensana identified outcropping of fluorite and undertook soil sampling and geological mapping over the 6 km x 2.5 km complex.
An outcrop sample of very high-grade material of over 97% calcium fluoride has been highlighted for further investigation.
Given that outcropping fluorite is often difficult to identify, this is strong evidence for more similar mineralisation, says Pensana.
The area is being mapped in detail and will be soil sampled. Trenching, rock chip sampling and drilling will be considered thereafter.
Fluorite is crucial in a growing range of chemical, ceramic and metallurgical processes, notes Pensana.
While the global pandemic has interrupted field staff site access, a Phase 2 programme has started and is on track for completion in the fourth quarter.
This comprises detailed geological mapping and rock chip sampling of the Coola carbonatite complex; mineralogical studies including X-ray diffraction analysis, petrography and whole rock geochemistry; infill soil geochemistry over the area of fluorite mineralisation; infill soil geochemistry over the rare earth/scandium-enriched carbonatite ring dyke; and augering the central diatreme.
The Phase 2 programme is well timed to access upgrades which will enable larger equipment on site at Coola in 2022, posits Pensana.