Meteoric Resources has announced a binding agreement resulting in the expansion of its Caldeira rare earth element (REE) project in Brazil through the acquisition of Ionic Clay licences.

The Australian exploration company will add 21 licences to the Caldeira project through the deal. These include two mining licences (MLs), 12 mining licence applications (MLAs), four exploration licences (ELs), and three exploration licence applications (ELA).

Meteoric Resources said that 11 of the licences, are transferrable freely, while 10 are presently dependent on third party encumbrances. These including all of those which effectively join the three Caldeira Project licences of Capão do Mel, Soberbo, and Figueira.

The sellers of the licences are Varginha Mineração e Loteamentos, Minas Rio Mineradora, and Fertimax Fertilizantes Organicos.

The licences to be added span 49km² and increase the total area covered by Meteoric Resources in the REE province by 40% to 172km².

The company said that the licences involved in the deal did not see any exploration in the past for rare earth metals and no technical data is available for reporting.

However, historic drilling of the Capão do Mel, the Soberbo, and the Figueira licences, that are in proximity to the main area of the acquisition, have robust mineralisation extending to the licence boundaries.

Meteoric Resources stated that there are high chances that the REE mineralisation will continue into the new licences and this opportunity will be the target of substantial future exploration.

Meteoric Resources executive chairman Andrew Tunks said: “The licences to be acquired perfectly consolidate our ground holdings in the southern, most prospective region of the Project, creating a contiguous block of ground and tying the highly prospective Capão do Mel and Sorberbo licences back to Figueira in a single parcel.

“Evaluation of historic exploration drilling on Capão do Mel, Figueira and Sorberbo confirms REE mineralisation continues right up to the boundaries of licences to be acquired, and logically into these areas.

“This significantly increases our discovery opportunity and we will extend our current diamond drilling programme to complete several stratigraphic holes to test for REE mineralisation and depth to basement within these new licences.”

Prior to the deal, the Caldeira REE project was made up of 30 licenses, of which 21 are mining licences and nine are mining licence applications. The project, which is located in the Minas Gerais State, was acquired by Meteoric Resources earlier this month from Togni S/A Materiais Refratários.