PERTH (miningweekly.com) – ASX-listed miner Iluka has awarded a front-end engineering design (FEED) contract to Fluor Australia at its Eneabba rare earths refinery, along with a contract to undertake engineering, procurement and construction management services.
Iluka in April took a final investment decision on the A$1-bilion to A$1.2-billion refinery, which would have a 17 500 t/y total rare earth oxide capacity, and would employ 300 people during construction and around 270 during its operations.
Construction is slated to start in the second half of this year, and first production is expected in 2025.
Iluka said on Wednesday that the award of the contracts was an important step in the delivery of the refinery and Iluka’s rare earth diversification.
Eneabba is the highest grade rare earths operation globally and currently consists of Iluka’s stockpile of the rare earth-bearing minerals monazite and xenotime, as well as the company’s Phase 1 screening and Phase 2 concentrating plant.
Phase 3 will build on this existing operation to deliver a significant downstream infrastructure asset comprising roasting, leaching, purification, solvent extraction and product finishing. The refinery will be fed initially from the Eneabba stockpile.
The refinery will be fully integrated, producing light and heavy separated rare earth oxides and capable of processing feedstocks from Iluka’s portfolio and from a range of third-party suppliers. This would include both mineral sands and rare earth deposits.