PERTH (miningweekly.com) – A definitive feasibility study (DFS) into the Nolans neodymium-praseodymium (NdPr) project, in the Northern Territory, has confirmed the project’s economics, with ASX-listed Arafura Resources planning to start project commissioning by mid-2022.
At a capital cost of just over A$1-billion, the Nolans project is expected to deliver 293 000 t/y of concentrate, containing 4 357 t/y NdPr oxide, 135 808 t/y of phosphoric acid and 13 343 t/y total rare earth oxide equivalent, over a mine life of 23 years.
The DFS estimated an average earnings before interest, taxes, depreciation and amortisation of A$377-million a year, with the project projected to have a net present value of A$729-million and an internal rate of return of 17.43%.
Operating costs have been estimated at A$48.40/kg NdPr, and at A$36.85/kg of NdPr with phosphoric acid credit.
“The DFS confirms Nolans as an ultra-low-cost producer sitting in the industry’s lowest cost quartile. We are particularly pleased to note that forecast average annual production of NdPr oxide of 4 357 t/y is 21% higher than previously expected, positioning Nolans as the world’s most significant long-term NdPr development project in a premier mining jurisdiction,” said Arafura MD Gavin Lockyer.
“Along with having secured environmental approvals, delivery of the DFS adds to the platform from which the company can now complete the remaining milestones for Nolans; binding offtake, permitting and project finance, ahead of a targeted construction start in 2020, and commissioning in 2022.”
Arafura has already inked two nonbinding offtake agreements to date, while negotiations for additional agreements are ongoing.