PERTH (miningweekly.com) – Rare earths developer Hastings Technology Metals has reduced the capital cost expectations at its Yangibana project, in Western Australia, by some A$68-million.
The cost savings come as the company pursues a decoupled processing strategy and a relocation of the hydrometallurgical plant to the Pilbara.
The reduction in the capital cost resulted from the elimination of a 114-km gas pipeline as well as a 40% reduction in on-site water abstraction and power requirements, Hastings told shareholders on Wednesday.
“The Yangibana rare earths project is proving to be an economically strong project even in this challenging Covid-19 environment. In line with our pursuit of continuous improvement in the project’s robustness, the Hastings leadership saw an opportunity to optimise and improve the proposed project layout and further reduce the required capital expenditure,” said executive chairperson Charles Lew.
‘The decision to consider a de-coupling of Yangibana’s processing set-up not only allows us to reduce the overall project’s capital cost, but deliver significant benefits, including streamlining operating expenditure associated with logistics arrangement and other associated infrastructure costs, alongside creating significant residential job opportunities in regional Western Australia.”
Detailed capital and logistics costs of the location for the hydrometallurgical plant have started, with Lew saying there would be a need for some additional costs through duplication of equipment and services for the new location.
Transportation of a beneficiated concentrate from the mine site to the new plant location would also be required, however, these costs would be offset by eliminating the need to transport large volumes of sulphuric acid, caustic soda and other chemical reagents to the mine site.
The proposed hydrometallurgical plant location has an already established Native Title Agreement and does not impact on any cultural heritage sites, the company added.
The one-million-tonne-a-year Yangibana operation is expected to produce some 15 000 t/y of mixed rare earths carbonate, and about 8 850 t/y of total rare earth oxides, with Hastings previously estimating a capital spend of A$517-million to bring the project on line.