Earlier this month I had the opportunity to visit Round Top, the rare-earth-element (REE) project being developed by Texas Rare Earth Resources Corp. (OTCQX:TRER). While in the Lone Star State I also paid a visit to the University of Texas at El Paso (UTEP), where much of the processing and analysis work on the project has been undertaken.
The project is located in Hudspeth County in the far west of Texas, USA, approximately 85 miles southeast of the city of El Paso. The nearest town is Sierra Blanca, 8 miles to the southeast of the deposit, with a population of around 560 people and where Texas Rare Earth Resources (TRER) has an office. The border with Mexico is nearby, some 10 miles to the south.
Round Top is one of five peaks that make up the Sierra Blanca range, the others being Triple Hill, Sierra Blanca Peak, Little Blanca and Little Round Top. According to TRER’s most recent Preliminary Economic Assessment (PEA) report (published in December 2013), these peaks are rhyolite laccoliths – intrusions of magma that have welled up between layers of Cretaceous sedimentary rock to formed domed structures. The topmost layer of sedimentary rock has eroded over time, resulting in the present exposed rhyolite formations.
The deposit is just 3 miles north of I-10, the interstate highway that starts in Santa Monica, California in the west and which finishes in Jacksonville, Florida in the east, passing through El Paso, San Antonio and Houston in Texas along the way. Round Top is therefore highly accessible by road. Sierra Blanca sits at the intersection of two branches of the Union Pacific railroad. There is an active rail spur that terminates less than three miles from the base of Round Top Mountain, serving a local company, RCL Rock, which mines an average of 6,000 t / day of similar rhyolite for railroad ballast.
My hosts for the visit were Dan Gorski, CEO and director of TRER, and Tony Marchese, chairman of the company’s board of directors.