PERTH (miningweekly.com) – Rare earths developer Arafura Resources has reported a 54% increase in the ore reserve at its Nolans neodymium praseodymium (NdPr) project, in the Northern Territory, supporting a ten-year increase to the expected mine life.
The ore reserve for the Nolans project is now estimated at 29.5-million tonnes, of which five-million tonnes is classified as proven, and a further 34.6-million tonnes is classified as probable.
Using the current mine design, the Nolans project is now expected to have a mine life of 33 years, up from the previous estimate of 23 years.
In addition to the updated ore reserve, Arafura on Wednesday said that scheduling of the mining inventory, which has introduced minor changes to the design of the process plant, provided superior financial outcomes to those delivered in the 2019 definitive feasibility study (DFS) for the Nolans project.
The mining inventory production schedule supports production of over 39 years of an average 4 325 t/y NdPr oxide, at an operating cost of less than $24/kg.
The DFS estimated that Nolans could be developed at a capital cost of just over A$1-billion, 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.
“The reduction in operating costs cements Arafura as one of the lowest cost NdPr producers in the world. The increase in ore reserves and mining inventory attests to the long-term potential of the Nolans project, and when read in conjunction with the recently announced deep drilling results, reinforces its standing as a world-class NdPr development opportunity,” said Arafura MD Gavin Lockyer.
“I challenge anyone to find a better fully permitted, fully costed NdPr-focused project outside China. It meets all the criteria to be a long-term, sustainable supplier of critical minerals into clean energy technologies, and will deliver integrational benefits in a part of Australia that is challenged by limited opportunities for genuine economic development.”