PERTH (miningweekly.com) – Australian rare earths major Lynas has reached an agreement with the US government to build a commercial light rare earths separation plant.
The US Department of Defence in July last year told Lynas of its intent to award the company with a Phase 1 contract for a US-based heavy rare earths separation facility.
The Phase 1 funding will allow Lynas and its joint venture partner Blue Line to complete detailed planning and design work for the construction of the heavy rare earths separation facility, which could lead to further contracts for commercial scale production and operation of a US heavy rare earth separation facility.
The plant, which will be located in Texas, is expected to produce some 5 000 t/y of rare earths products, including some 1 250 t/y of neodymium praseodymium (NdPr). The plant will receive material directly from the cracking and leaching plant that Lynas is developing in Kalgoorlie.
Lynas told shareholders on Friday that detailed costing for the project is still being finalised, but that the Department of Defence funding would likely be capped at $30-million. The company is also expected to contribute some $30-million under the agreement.
The project is scheduled for completion as part of Lynas' 2025 plan.
“As the only non-Chinese commercial producer of separated rare earth products to the global marketplace, Lynas is delighted by the opportunity to develop a light rare earth separation facility in the US,” said CEO and MD Amanda Lacaze.
“Rare earth materials are critical inputs to many industrial supply chains, including electric vehicles, electronics and several defence applications. While demand for rare materials continues to grow, Covid -19 has exposed the risks within global supply chains of the single sourcing of critical minerals.
“This agreement is consistent with the US government’s commitment to rebuild the domestic industrial base, while working effectively with partner nations. The Texas plant will ensure the US has a secure domestic source of high quality separated rare earth materials.
“This secure supply will provide the essential foundation for the renewal of downstream speciality metal making and permanent magnet manufacturing in North America.”