Northern Minerals: Second wave development plans to drive long term strategy

Australian heavy rare earths developer, Northern Minerals Ltd has raised approximately A$9.74 million, through equity and debt, for further development of the Browns Range Pilot Plant and has commenced a program consisting of four enhancement initiatives aimed at increasing the economic potential of the Browns Range heavy rare earths project in the East Kimberley, Western Australia and its other projects.

  • Browns Range Pilot Plant Project development progressing as planned, on time and on budget
  • Project enhancement initiatives, including downstream processing, kicked off
  • A$9.74 million funding package in place
  • New financing measures to fund growth plans, including launch of share purchase plan offer
  • Proposed bonus listed option issue for all shareholders, targeted for February 2018.

Northern Minerals’ Managing Director and CEO, George Bauk, commented “The expansion initiatives are all designed to position Browns Range and Northern Minerals as a globally significant rare earths producer.

“By looking to extend the potential mine life of Browns Range and move downstream in the value chain, we are aligning ourselves with the permanent magnet producers that are taking a long-term position on the growth of the electric vehicle market.

“The new funding announced today provides the company with the flexibility and momentum to progress the second wave of growth for Browns Range.”

The pilot plant project is planning on producing 573,000 kg of mixed heavy rare earth carbonate, containing both dysprosium and terbium as revenue products. All the pilot plant production is being sold to JFMAG under an offtake agreement for the three-year pilot plant project.

The company has received many approaches from permanent magnet producers in the US, Europe, South Korea and Japan regarding the potential for the sale of separated rare earth oxide products from the potential large-scale project. This includes dysprosium oxide, terbium oxide, neodymium and praseodymium as well as the potential for the separation of other heavy rare earths.

While the company has investigated the potential for downstream processing as far back as 2012, recent improvements in technology and licencing opportunities has increased the potential for Northern Minerals to value-add to extract additional benefits for shareholders.

The company has commenced initial discussions with potential licencing partners for the application of downstream processing technologies as well as investigating a potential site for the optimal location of a downstream processing operation. The potential site requires low cost power and access to the chemical used in the process.

The Browns Range pilot plant project is being developed to assess the technical and economic feasibility of a large full-scale project.

Over the three-year project, various initiatives and scenarios will be assessed, all aimed at improving the project for the future.

With the mining program for the pilot plant project now successfully completed, the project team is reviewing the campaign to improve and refine mining methods in the future. The project team is also investigating the optimal plant location for the larger scale project.

An example of this is the application of steeper pit walls during the mining campaign, which resulted in a decrease in the volume of waste removed. AMC Mining Consultants will monitor the pit walls before and after the next few wet seasons to assess the long-term stability and geotechnical implications.

The company is currently assessing several opportunities in the rare earth sector that are complementary to the Browns Range project.

In order to fully capture the rare earth potential in the permanent magnet sector, which is forecast to grow with increasing electric vehicle penetration, the company is focussing on acquisitions in the light rare earth sector, including projects with identified neodymium (Nd) and praseodymium (Pr) resources.