Chris Oldfield, Naracoorte Community News
Frances farmer Wayne Hawkins believes local landowners need to keep an open mind regarding rare earths found in the region’s ionic clay.
“The world of technology is heading north at such a fast rate,” Mr Hawkins said.
“If they can extract rare earths from the South East in a way that doesn’t have a negative impact on the productivity of the land, and the environment, then we can be proud to be part of the bigger picture for the zero carbon targets that are being set by governments all round the world.”
His comments come in the wake of a recent site visit for Frances residents regarding a Kopamurra project by mining company, Australian Rare Earths.
As reported previously by The News, the rare earths found at Koppamurra are an Australian first.
The ionic clay contains Neodymium, Praseodymium, Dysprosium and Terbium.
Under the banner of light and heavy rare earth elements, they are used in permanent magnet generators for wind turbines and electric traction drives for electronic vehicles.
They are also essential for other digital technology such as mobile phones and computers.
Listed on the Australian Stock Exchange as AR3 since July, Australian Rare Earths have been granted two exploration licences across the South East of South Australia, with an additional two applications pending.
The company’s current drill program – which started in November and is likely to run until the end of the year – is focused on confirming the regional perspectivity of Koppamurra, with roadside drilling planned in three main areas.
Those areas are centred around the Comaum, Hynam and Frances districts.
“An additional objective of the program is to identify mineralisation, to support the initial findings on private properties, within areas where AR3 has entered into agreement with landowners,” community and land manager Jacqui Owen said.
“Local community members were invited to see the drill rig in action, they were able to see the low impact of the shallow drilling being undertaken, using a Landcruiser mounted air-core rig.
“The shallow drilling of the mineral clay layer is usually less than 18m deep.
“Each drill hole is completed within 20 to 30 minutes, with the holes being backfilled immediately upon completion.
“There are no dug sumps or vegetation clearance required and no drill cuttings at surface.
“The visit to site also provided an opportunity for landowners to ask questions and gain insights into the significance of Koppamurra and the positive contribution it will play in a cleaner, greener future for Australia.”
Ms Owen said the company was currently in the exploration phase at Koppamurra.
“Koppamurra is prospective for Rare Earth Elements (REEs), which are critical to Australia’s net-zero carbon future,” she said.
“Rare Earth Elements are essential to the production of many renewable energy technologies.
“They are a key ingredient in the production of high strength permanent magnets used to manufacture electric motors for electric vehicles and for wind turbines that produce clean electricity, together playing an increasingly important role in decarbonising our society.”
Ms Owen was pleased for those who were able to witness firsthand the company’s exploration drilling.
Currently similar ionic clays which are non-radioactive are only mined in China and Myanmar.
October announcements to the Australian Stock Exchange by the company have included board appointments, an AGM, a cashflow report and a list of quarterly activities.
This article appeared in Naracoorte Community News, 3 November 2021.