Hastings could be next in line to produce rare earths in Australia with plant approval in Onslow
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Rare earths player Hastings Technology Metals (ASX:HAS) has just secured environmental approval for construction of the downstream processing plant at its Yangibana rare earths project in Onslow in WA.
It’s a solid step on the path to production, with the plant set to perform hydrometallurgical processing of rare earths oxide concentrate from Yangibana into mixed rare earth carbonate (MREC) containing high levels of neodymium and praseodymium concentrate (NdPr).
NdPr are vital components used to manufacture permanent magnets that are required in advanced technology products ranging from electric vehicles to wind turbines, robotics, medical applications and digital devices.
And Yangibana contains one of the most highly valued NdPr deposits in the world, with NdPr:TREO ratios of up to 52%.
The Department of Agriculture, Water and the Environment (DAWE) approval follows DevelopmentWA Board sign-off last month for the company to enter discussions for an option to lease Ashburton North Strategic Industrial Area (ANSIA) Lot 600.
“This is a significant milestone for our Yangibana Rare Earths Project and further endorses Hastings’ decision last year to decouple the processing plant from the Yangibana mine site,” executive chairman Charles Lew said.
“The Commonwealth environmental approval will allow Hastings to construct the Onslow Rare Earths Plant for a full production rate of 15,000 tonnes of MREC per annum, unlocking the high-quality and NdPr-rich rare earths carbonate that we will produce at Yangibana.”
“Importantly, the Commonwealth approval is another positive step in Hastings’ journey to become Australia’s next rare earth producer.”
“Debt financing talks are advancing well and scheduled for conclusion before the end of this year and early stage civil works at the Yangibana mine site are in progress.”
The company says that building the plant at ANSIA – which is around 15kms south-west of Onslow – is key to its downstream processing program because it offers access to piped natural gas, a plentiful supply of water and grid power.
Plus, the ANSIA location reduced the volumes of consumables and reagents needed to be transported to the Yangibana mine site by up to 80%.
Construction of the plant is due to begin in 2022, after the completion of early works at Yangibana mine site – and in line with Hastings’ target to produce its first MREC in early 2024.