Nolans neodymium/praseodymium rare earths project, Australia – update

Image of Nolans' mineral tenements

Photo by Arafura Resources

23rd June 2023

By: Sheila Barradas

Creamer Media Research Coordinator & Senior Deputy Editor


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Name of the Project
Nolans neodymium/praseodymium rare earths project.

Northern Territory, Australia.

Project Owner/s
Arafura Resources.

Project Description
The Nolans project will encompass a mine, a process plant ­– comprising beneficiation, extraction and separation plants – and related infrastructure.

An updated feasibility study has optimised the production schedule and financial outcomes of the project. The pit optimisations, mine designs, ore reserves and mining inventory are unchanged from the updated mining study in March 2020.

The project has ore reserves of 29.5-million tonnes grading 2.9% total rare-earth oxides, 13% phosphorous pentoxide and neodymium/praseodymium enrichment of 26.4%.

The updated feasibility study has reported a minor increase in the concentrate processing capacity of the process plant – from 330 000 t/y to 340 000 t/y. The definitive feasibility study was based on 300 000 t/y.

The beneficiation capacity has increased from one-million tonnes a year to 1.5-million tonnes later in the life-of-mine to accommodate lower run-of-mine head grades.

Minor changes to the hydrometallurgical recovery of rare earths and phosphorous pentoxide, resulting from the changes to the processing plant design, have also been reported.

The project is expected to produce 4 440 t/y of neodymium/praseodymium oxide over its 38-year mine life. The production of middle and heavy rare-earth oxides is estimated at 474 t/y and phosphoric acid at 144 393 t/y.

Potential Job Creation
The project will create 650 jobs at the peak of construction and new high-value export opportunities.   

Net Present Value/Internal Rate of Return
In the base case, the project has a net present value, at an 8% discount rate, of A$2.4-billion and an internal rate of return of 19.3%.

Capital Expenditure
Preproduction capital is estimated at A$1.39-billion plus A$196-million in contingency.

Planned Start/End Date
First ore-processing is expected in October 2024, with first ore-production expected towards the end of 2024. These dates are contingent on securing funding for the activities required.

Latest Developments
Arafura has received a letter of interest from Canadian credit export agency Export Development Canada (EDC) for the provision of a potential $300-million in financing for the Nolans rare earths project.

The indication of support from the EDC is linked to a strategic arrangement between the export credit agency and General Electric Company (GE), with which Arafura signed a memorandum of understanding in 2022 pertaining to the supply of neodymium praseodymium.

GE is also working with Arafura to supply cogeneration power plant technology, including its aeroderivative LM2500 gas turbine and associated equipment, to Nolans’ independent power provider, to support the power and heat requirements of the project’s processing facility.

EDC’s support is subject to standard due diligence procedures. The potential funding from EDC would likely reduce the proposed $510-million debt financing facility targeted by the mandated lead arrangers and bookrunners, Arafura has said.

Key Contracts, Suppliers and Consultants
KBR, Wave International and Arafura’s geological, metallurgical and project personnel (updated definitive feasibility study); Mining Plus (mine planning, design and scheduling, along with mining cost estimation); Simulus (process simulation); and Infinity Corporate Finance (financial modelling).

Contact Details for Project Information
Arafura Resources, tel +61 8 6210 7666 or email

Edited by Creamer Media Reporter



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