Australian rare earths mine gains backing of Government

Article by Amanda Doyle

THE Australian Government has backed the Yangibana rare earths mine in the Gascoyne region of Western Australia with a A$140m (US$100m) loan.

The Northern Australia Infrastructure Facility (NAIF) has approved the A$140m for Hastings Technology Metals to establish the rare earths mine. The loan forms part of the A$300m–400m needed for the project and Hastings is now seeking to finalise the debt package required for funding construction.

The project will consist of a mine and beneficiation plant at the Yangibana site, as well as a hydrometallurgical plant at the Ashburton North Strategic Industrial Area (ANSIA) near Onslow.

When operational, it will produce 15,000 t/y of mixed rare earth carbonate. Hastings expects that the carbonate will meet 6–8% of global demand for neodymium and praseodymium, which is used for manufacturing permanent magnets. It said that Yangibana has the world’s highest concentration of neodymium and praseodymium.

David Littleproud, Minister for Agriculture and Northern Australia, said: “This project will help meet the growing global demand for critical minerals, supporting Australia’s position as a world-leading producer. It will make use of Northern Australia’s rich resources, strengthening key local industries and export markets to provide a real boon to our economy now and well into the future.”

Charles Lew, Executive Chairman of Hastings Technology Metals, said: “Hastings is delighted to have received the Federal Government’s support, through the NAIF, for the Yangibana rare earths project. This is the Commonwealth’s first project financing package for the construction of a rare earth mine and production plant in Australia and supports the rapid development worldwide of decarbonisation technologies in e-mobility and energy. In view of the COP26 held in November 2021, Hastings is proud to be at the forefront of this significant global transition to a lower carbon future and aims to be a part of the global efforts towards sustainability.”

The project is expected to now move into full-scale construction this year, with first production expected by 2024.

Article by Amanda Doyle

Staff Reporter, The Chemical Engineer

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