Special Report: Arafura’s pilot operations have demonstrated its ability to produce high-purity rare earth products from the Nolans neodymium-praseodymium (NdPr) project.

This was the result of the rare earth separation pilot program, the seventh and final stage of the flowsheet pilot program for the company’s project in the Northern Territory.

Arafura Resources (ASX:ARU) successfully produced a refined liquor in which NdPr makes up more than 99.9 per cent of its contained rare earth elements (REE) and a separate refined liquor where mixed middle-heavy rare earths (SEG-HRE) comprises more than 99.5 per cent of the REE content.

These liquors are being processed to prepare final products – NdPr oxide and SEG-HRE carbonate – for assessment by potential customers in Arafura’s target jurisdictions which include Japan, China and the USA.

“The results of the pilot are not unexpected and confirm our ability to produce separated rare earth products at Nolans,” Managing Director Gavin Lockyer said.

“Producing final product at a time when countries are re-assessing their supply chains for critical materials such as NdPr oxide puts us in a great position to enhance our reputation as a long-term potential supplier in the market.”

Read: Could the coronavirus fuel development of non-Chinese rare earth projects?

Lockyer noted that Nolans was the only NdPr-focused development in Australia that has full Territory and Commonwealth environmental approvals.

“This provides international customers with confidence that their product is being sourced from reliable and ethical practices through the full lifecycle of the project including rehabilitation,” he said.

Data acquired during operation of the current pilot plant is being used to update the final basis of design documents for front-end engineering and design.

Arafura Resources NdPr separation circuit ANSTO
Arafura’s NdPr separation circuit during pilot operation at ANSTO

The basis of design for the Nolans Project includes the construction and operation of a separation plant that delivers 4,360 tonnes per annum of NdPr oxide and 600 tonnes per annum of SEG-HRE carbonate for a minimum of 23 years

Nolans has robust economics with a net present value (NPV) of $729m and internal rate of return (IRR) of 17.43 per cent.

The higher the IRR and NPV, the more profitable the proposed mining operation is estimated to be.

Arafura already has two non-binding agreements with Chinese magnet manufacturers Tianhe Magnetics and JingCi Material Science for the potential offtake of NdPr oxide from the project.

It also has a relationship with Talaxis, a wholly owned subsidiary of major Hong-Kong based commodities trader Noble Group, to drive development of the Nolans project.

Read: The government pledges cheap funding for Australian rare earths projects




This story was developed in collaboration with Arafura Resources, a Stockhead advertiser at the time of publishing.
This story does not constitute financial product advice. You should consider obtaining independent advice before making any financial decisions.