PERTH (miningweekly.com) − Rare earths developer Arafura Resources on Friday welcomed the release of South Australia’s environmental impact statement (EIS) guidelines for the proposed rare earths complex at Whyalla.
The Whyalla complex, which was granted major project status by the South Australian government last year, will process minerals concentrate from the Nolans project, in the Northern Territory.
The complex will comprise a series of chemical plants and a processing plant, where chemicals such as hydrochloric acid and sulphuric acid would leach out the rare earths, phosphate and uranium, for ultimate recovery and sale.
Arafura said that the release of the EIS guidelines, which was prepared by the Development Assessment Commission, marked a key milestone in progressing development of the Nolans project.
“The company started background work some months ago as a precursor to receiving the formal guidelines. It has also actively engaged in ongoing community consultation since Whyalla was announced as the preferred site for the rare earth complex,” MD and CEO Steve Ward said.
He added that the release of the formal guidelines would enable Arafura to focus on completing the work required for the EIS, while continuing its consultation activities with all stakeholders concurrently.
“Arafura is fully committed to ensuring its future operations comply with all relevant regulations,” he added.
Arafura was planning to produce around 20 000 t/y of rare-earth oxides and 80 000 t/y of phosphoric acid at the Whyalla complex, starting in 2013.
The Nolans project will also start production in 2013, and hosts an estimated 850 000 t of rare-earth oxides, 3.9-million tons of phosphate pentoxide, and a further 13.3-million pounds of uranium.