The Australian government’s support for critical minerals such as rare earth elements (REE) has put the spotlight on projects such as Red Mountain’s Mt Mansbridge.

The Mt Mansbridge project in Western Australia’s East Kimberley region has a high concentration of dysprosium and terbium, giving it a higher basket content of high-value heavy rare earths.

This presents Australia with another opportunity to support the global diversification from China’s historic production monopolies of heavy rare earths and is in line with Prime Minister Scott Morrison’s call to deliver a stronger economy for Australia and secure the country’s own resource of strategic minerals.

“The world is becoming a more uncertain place and we want to secure Australia as a reliable partner for local and global businesses that need the critical minerals we have right here,” Morrison noted.

“We’ll dig them up right here. We’ll refine them right here. We’ll look to make the products that use them right here.”

Red Mountain Mining (ASX:RMX) chairman Troy Flannery says the March 16 announcement for Commonwealth funding of $243M under the Modern Manufacturing Initiative is significant for the Australian rare earth sector and recognises the importance of developing Australia’s critical minerals industry.

“With very few significant heavy rare earth resources outside China and the global diversification away from the Chinese supply chain represent an excellent opportunity for RMX to explore and develop new sources of heavy rare earths outside of China,” he added.

This comes as final assay reads from October 2021’s reverse circulation drilling returned significant results – including 2m grading 0.102% total rare earth oxides in hole MMRC003 at the Solo prospect.

Solo consists of a structurally controlled 200m long zone of outcropping REE mineralisation within the Proterozoic aged prospective Killi-Killi Formation.

The company plans to carry out further RC drilling to test the heavy rare earth mineralized zone at depth.

Rare earths critical for new energy transition

Rare earths are considered to be critical for the green energy transition with Adamas Intelligence forecasting that REE oxides for the permanent magnet market will increase five-fold from US$2.98bn in 2020 to US$15.65bn by 2030.

This is thanks to the use of rare earths such as neodymium for the construction of permanent magnets that are essential for electric vehicle motors.

Adding dysprosium and terbium to neodymium magnets allows its strength to remain while improving its resistance to demagnetisation at higher temperatures.

This allows the magnets to operate at higher temperatures.

Adamas added that the lack of primary and secondary supply of dysprosium oxide from 2022 onwards will increase the global shortages of about 1,850 tonnes by 2030, which is roughly equal to current global annual mine production.

With dysprosium typically making up 3%-5% of the rare earth mix, this means the industry will need to produce an additional 35,000 to 60,000 tons of annual total heavy rare earth oxides by 2030 to avoid shortages.




This article was developed in collaboration with Red Mountain Mining, a Stockhead advertiser at the time of publishing.


This article does not constitute financial product advice. You should consider obtaining independent advice before making any financial decisions.