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Saltend Chemicals Park rare-earth oxide separation facility, Angola – update

Mounds of rare earths

25th August 2023

By: Sheila Barradas

Creamer Media Research Coordinator & Senior Deputy Editor


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Name of the Project
Saltend Chemicals Park rare-earth oxide (REO) separation facility.

Saltend Chemicals Park, in Humber, Yorkshire, in England, in the UK. The  Longonjo operation is located in Angola.

Project Owner/s
Rare earths developer Pensana (formerly Pensana Rare Earths).

Project Description
The Saltend Chemicals Park is a cluster of world-class chemicals and renewable-energy businesses, including bp Chemicals, Ineos, Nippon Gohsei and Air Products.

The Saltend refinery will be the first major rare earths separation facility to be built in more than a decade. Pensana completed a front-end engineering design (FEED) and value engineering study for the rare earth separation hub at the park in May 2022.

The FEED and value engineering study envision production of 12 500 t/y of total REO, including about 5 000 t/y of neodymium and praseodymium oxides. The project will primarily treat material sourced from the Longonjo mine, in Angola, which will comprise an openpit mine and a flotation concentration plant to produce mixed rare-earth sulphate (MRES).

Longonjo is targeting the production of 38 000 t/y of mixed rare-earth sulphate, containing 14 000 t of total rare-earth oxides and 4 400 t of neodymium and praseodymium oxide for downstream processing or export to the international market. 

The rare earth processing facility will be the world’s first to be powered by offshore wind.

Potential Job Creation
The project will create more than 450 jobs during construction and more than 125 direct jobs once in production.

Net Present Value/Internal Rate of Return
The project has an estimated after-tax estimated net present value of $3.6-billion and an internal rate of return of 77%, with a payback of 1.3 years.

Capital Expenditure
Total preproduction capital expenditure amounts to $494-million. The Saltend refinery capital cost is estimated at $195-million, while the Longonjo mine and processing infrastructure will total just under $300-million.

Planned Start/End Date
Full production is targeted for 2024.

Latest Developments
Pensana has advised that it is on track to re-engineer the Longonjo project to reduce its upfront capital cost to $200-million and complete financial due diligence for the main financing of the project in the coming quarter.

The redesign will result in Longonjo’s producing a standardised and highly marketable, radionuclide-free mixed rare-earth carbonate.

A revised execution plan allows for staged mine development, which reduces the upfront capital cost.

To meet the financier’s due diligence requirements, Pensana has re-engaged selected vendors of major and long-lead items to provide updated quotations.

Major shareholder Angolan sovereign investment fund FSDEA will provide an immediate $15-million loan facility as part of a broader $80-million investment towards development of the mine, as well as to provide the equity component for a proposed debt facility.

In turn, Absa Bank has been mandated to arrange a $120-million debt facility, which, together with the $80-million in funding, will see the mine and processing facilities through to commissioning.

Site infrastructure development in preparation for main construction continues , including earthworks, electrical reticulation and water/sewerage services in preparation for camp construction.

The SRK team is making good progress on the geotechnical investigations in support of the dual purpose tailings storage facility (TSF) detailed design. The selected TSF site has been confirmed as providing suitable excavated material for use in the TSF starter walls, pit haul roads, plant terracing and other construction related requirements, thus mitigating visual impact and the need to develop borrow-pit sources and associated licensing and material transport costs.

Integration of the Longonjo project bulk reagent consumption requirements – including sulphur and caustic soda into the Trafigura/Mota Engil-led strategic mineral-focused Lobito Corridor port and rail concessions – is being pursued as part of the ongoing operations readiness preparation. Logistic and operational expenditure benefits are obvious in terms of broader reagent supply to the existing Democratic Republic of Congo Copperbelt mines, alongside the limestone that will be sourced from the existing quarries in the Lobito area.

Key Contracts, Suppliers and Consultants
Wood, SRK Consulting, Snowden Mining Industry Consultants and Paradigm Project Management (FEED and value engineering study); SRK (geotechnical investigations) px Group (construction); PPM (owners representative) Wood (principal and designer and contractor) and Snowden Mining Industry Consultants (capital expenditure estimate, the operating cost budget and the project schedule); ADP Group, part of Lycopodium Group (engineering); ADP and Pro Process (detailed design of the re-engineered Longonjo project); Elecktra (electrical reticulation) and Group Nov (site infrastructure development).

Contact Details for Project Information
Pensana, email


Edited by Creamer Media Reporter



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