PERTH (miningweekly.com) – The board of ASX-listed Northern Minerals has approved a A$56-million three-year pilot plant at its Browns Range heavy rare earths project, in Western Australia.
The pilot plant project, which will be funded from a combination of equity, debt, offtake pre-payments and deferred payments, will be used to assess the economic feasibility of a full-scale project and will form part of the ongoing feasibility study at the Browns Range project.
The pilot plant is being constructed with a throughput rate of 60 000 t/y, which is around 10% of the size of the proposed full-scale development to assess, refine and confirm the optimal flowsheet.
The project is expected to produce some 148 200 kg of dysprosium in 1.7-million kilograms of total rare earth oxide in a mixed rare earth carbonate.
“The pilot plant development will help us continue to assess the economic and technical feasibility of a larger full scale development. Incidentally, it also provides an opportunity to gain production experience and surety of supply for our offtake partner and propels Northern Minerals towards being the first dysprosium producer outside of China,” said Northern Minerals MD George Bauk.
Construction of the project will take some 11 months, with first mixed rare earth carbonate production expected in mid-2018.
Northern Minerals has previously executed a sales agreement covering 100% of the production from the pilot project.