Tag Archives: Rare earths

Metso Outotec to supply rotary kiln system for Lynas rare earth plant in Kalgoorlie

Lynas Corp says it has taken a significant step towards developing its new Kalgoorlie rare earths processing plant having awarded Metso Outotec with a contract to supply the plant’s rotary kiln system following a competitive tender process.

The 110 m long, 1,500 t kiln is the largest and longest lead time piece of equipment required for the plant’s operation, according to Lynas.

The contract for engineering and supply of the kiln is valued at around $15 million, including the discharge housing, combustion chamber and burner, motor control stations and delivery to Kalgoorlie.

The kiln will be manufactured by Metso Outotec to Lynas’ own design, which improves on the design of the four 60 m kilns currently in operation at the Lynas Malaysia plant, the company says. The new kiln will provide increased efficiency and reliability, it added.

Lynas CEO and Managing Director, Amanda Lacaze, said: “The kiln is the longest lead time item for our Kalgoorlie project and placing this order is an important milestone in the development of our new processing plant in Kalgoorlie. We are making good progress on the project, and we look forward to working with Metso Outotec on the engineering and supply of the kiln.”

Stephan Kirsch, President Minerals business area, Metso Outotec, said: “We are excited having been selected by Lynas as a key supplier for the development of its significant greenfield project in Western Australia. The Metso rotary kiln system forms an integral part for the processing of rare earths.”

Metso Outotec will commence work on the kiln immediately, with components to be manufactured in Australia as well as in European countries, Lynas said.

The plant will process concentrate from the Mt Weld mine (pictured), also in Western Australia’s Goldfields region, and provide an intermediate feed for further processing to produce neodymium and praseodymium, which are key elements used in high-tech consumer electronics and green energy technologies. Concentrate is currently exported to the Lynas rare earth processing facility in Malaysia.

US Department of Energy to provide funding for coal-based product innovations

The US Department of Energy (DOE) says it intends to make approximately $122 million available to establish coal product innovation centres that focus on manufacturing value-added, carbon-based products from coal, as well developing new methods to extract and process rare earth elements and critical minerals from coal.

The DOE anticipates funding innovation centres in multiple US coal producing basins.

New and existing coalitions of private industry, academia, national laboratories, and state and local governments are encouraged to compete to establish the centres, it said.

“Once established, the public-private innovation centres will research and incubate innovative mining, beneficiation, processing, and purification technologies that are environmentally sustainable,” the DOE said. “Each centre will also provide a foundation for educating the next generation of technicians, skilled workers, and science, technology, engineering, and mathematics professionals.”

US Secretary of Energy, Dan Brouillette, said: “It’s vitally important that America develop a viable domestic supply of rare earth elements, critical minerals, and other valuable products from our vast coal resources. This effort moves us closer to that goal.

“The Trump Administration has been aggressively investing in research and development for novel uses of coal that have the potential to create new markets for coal and coal by-products. Sustaining domestic coal production creates new economic opportunity for coal state economies and benefits the nation.”

Examples of US coal basins, which could host an innovation centre, include: the Appalachian basin (Kentucky, Ohio, Pennsylvania, Tennessee, Virginia, West Virginia), the San Juan River-Raton-Black Mesa basin (Arizona, Colorado, New Mexico), the Illinois basin (Kentucky, Illinois, Indiana, Tennessee), the Williston basin (Montana, North Dakota, South Dakota), the Powder River basin (Montana, Wyoming), the Uinta basin (Colorado, Utah), the Green River-Wind River basin (Colorado, Wyoming), the Gulf Coast-Black Warrior basin (Alabama, Arkansas, Louisiana, Mississippi and Texas), and Alaska, covering 22 states.

The funding for the innovation centres will be provided from the new Carbon Ore, Rare Earths, and Critical Minerals (CORE-CM) Initiative, which is sponsored by DOE’s Office of Fossil Energy. This will be made available through one or more Funding Opportunity Announcements issued this summer by DOE’s National Energy Technology Laboratory (NETL), it said.

Steven Winberg, Assistant Secretary for Fossil Energy, said: “These planned innovation centres and other efforts supported by the new CORE-CM initiative will build on the amazing work that NETL and our partners have been doing for years on rare earth elements, critical minerals, and value-added products from coal.

“We’re excited about our path forward and the economic opportunity it creates for coal producing regions of the country and the United States.”

Ucore partners with Kingston Process Metallurgy to demo RapidSX technology

Ucore Rare Metals’ wholly-owned subsidiary, Innovation Metals Corp (IMC), has executed a binding agreement with Kingston Process Metallurgy Inc (KPM) that will see Kingston become IMC’s long-term laboratory partner for the commercialisation of the RapidSX™ technology.

The news follows a strategic update from earlier in the month when Ucore said it was evaluating various location opportunities for a “commercialisation-phase” facility where RapidSX was intended eventually to operate at demonstration scale, using a number of customers’ feedstocks.

IMC’s proprietary RapidSX technology is being developed for the cost-effective, bulk/commercial separation and purification of rare-earth elements (REEs) – including both heavy REE (HREEs) and light REEs (LREEs) – for the production of REE oxides (REOs), in addition to other critical metals, such as lithium, nickel and cobalt for lithium-ion battery materials.

IMC developed the RapidSX separation technology with the assistance of $1.8 million in funding from the United States Department of Defense, resulting in the production of commercial-grade, separated REOs at the pilot scale.

“The technology combines the time-proven chemistry of conventional solvent extraction (SX) with a new column-based platform, which significantly reduces time to completion and plant footprint, as well as potentially lowering capital and operating costs,” the company said. “SX is the international REE industry’s standard commercial separation technology and is currently used by 100% of all REE producers worldwide for bulk commercial separation of both HREEs and LREEs.”

The latest agreement has seen IMC secure the premises for the RapidSX Commercialisation and Development Facility (CDF) in Kingston, Ontario, Canada. This will see the RapidSX CDF occupy half (5,000 sq.ft (465 sq.m)) of the KPM pilot facility.

With more than 40 employees, KPM specialises in commercial process development and optimisation, with techno-economic and process modelling in parallel. It has the demonstrated expertise, multidisciplinary skills, and fundamental knowledge to develop concepts and solve unique challenges for its clients, Ucore said.

IMC CEO and Ucore CTO and Director, Dr Gareth Hatch, said: “IMC is thrilled to partner with KPM in the commercialisation of RapidSX. KPM has an accomplished track record of metallurgical process development and commercialisation, with a particular emphasis on clearly establishing the techno-economic feasibility of processes and appropriate unit-operation selection early on in the commercialisation process.”

Pat Ryan, Chairman and Interim CEO of Ucore, said: “The development of an individual REE separation and purification plant is Ucore’s targeted first commercial development component of our strategy.

“In order to meet this critical objective and in the shortest timeframe possible, our planned Alaska Strategic Metals Complex (SMC) will be designed to have the ability to produce REOs from commercially available, US allied-sourced REE feedstocks, addressing US security of supply for the most critical and highest-value REEs, specifically, praseodymium, neodymium, terbium, and dysprosium.

“We expect the Alaska SMC to operate at a commercial scale utilising pre-Bokan mixed REE concentrate feedstocks while the Bokan HREE project continues to be developed.”

Ucore adds IMC’s RapidSX to US-made rare earth supply chain plans

Ucore Rare Metals says it has executed a binding share purchase agreement with Innovation Metals Corp and its shareholders that will see it acquire 100% of IMC and its RapidSX™ accelerated solvent-extraction-based separation technology.

IMC is a privately held Canada-based company that has developed RapidSX for the separation and purification of critical metals including rare earth elements (REEs), lithium, nickel and cobalt. An accelerated solvent-extraction-based separation technology, it has been developed and successfully piloted by IMC.

Among other test work, RapidSX has proven highly effective at the pilot scale (pictured) in separating both heavy REE (HREE) and light REE (LREE) feedstocks to commercial-grade rare-earth oxides with expected significant technical and economic efficiencies relative to existing technologies, according to Ucore.

The C$5.8 million ($4.1 million) deal, backed by a C$2.8 million convertible debenture financing, furthers Ucore’s “M³ Plan of Action”. This is “a comprehensive, near-term strategy” predicated on building an economically robust, 100% made-in-USA HREE and LREE supply chain solution to address US critical metals independence, according to Ucore. Such a plan is needed to mitigate current concerns about the extreme concentration of the REE supply chain in China with scalable, secure, complete and cost competitive HREE and LREE downstream transformation capacity, the company says. Much of this plan hinges on successfully extracting and concentrating rare earths from the company’s Bokan-Dotson Ridge rare earth project, in Alaska.

Developed over several years, initially at the lab-scale level and then more recently with pilot facility column testing, RapidSX combines the chemistry of solvent extraction technology (the REE industry’s current standard bulk commercial separation technology) with a new column-based platform, which significantly accelerates separation performance, Ucore says. This results in a smaller process plant size and lower expected capital and operating costs, according to the company.

IMC has also turned its present-day attention to using RapidSX with other feedstocks, including nickel and cobalt from nickel-cobalt concentrates and lithium from lithium brines.

Ucore Chairman, Pat Ryan, said: “Ucore’s acquisition of IMC represents a significant opportunity for Ucore, its shareholders and all stakeholders, while accelerating our M³ Plan of Action.

“After significant study, the most convincing element of our analysis was understanding that RapidSX is not a ‘new’ technology but rather an important improvement on well-established, understood and industry expected SX separation technology. We firmly believe that the RapidSX technology holds considerable merit for Ucore’s own prospective Alaska Strategic Metals Complex, as discussed in our M³ Plan of Action, as well as industry-wide commercialisation in particular due to the scalable and modular nature of RapidSX.”

Mike Schrider, Chief Operating Officer of Ucore, said the further development of RapidSX to the point of commercial readiness will allow the Ucore-IMC team to support “all efforts by the US government and its allies to prospectively achieve this nationally secure pathway to independence”.

Ucore may well have another partner to consider within its strategy, too.

Back in October, IMC and Australia-based Hexagon Energy Materials announced an investment agreement pursuant to which Hexagon acquired a one-year option to acquire a 49% equity ownership in an incorporated joint venture with IMC to be called American Innovation Metals Inc (AIM) for the commercial development of the RapidSX REE technology. In order to exercise its option, Hexagon is required to pay IMC a total of $2 million in cash, in addition to $4 million in deferred compensation payable through Hexagon’s share of future distributable cash flows from AIM.

Ucore said: “The IMC-Ucore team continues to look forward to Hexagon exercising the Hexagon-IMC REE joint venture option. In accordance with the purchase agreement between Ucore and IMC, all of Hexagon’s commercial rights and obligations have been fully maintained in accordance with the terms of the investment agreement between Hexagon and IMC.”

Hatch Engineering joins Geomega team focused on rare earths recycling

Geomega Resources and its subsidiary Innord have added Hatch Engineering to its engineering group to advance the development and prepare for constructing the first rare earth magnet recycling plant outside of Asia.

This engineering work on the demonstration plant in St Bruno, Quebec, will be funded 50% by additional funds from the National Research Council of Canada Industrial Research Assistance Program (NRC-IRAP), Geomega says.

Hatch is a multidiscipline engineering group with a strong presence in Quebec, Canada. It has expertise in rare earth and other industrial minerals processing, industrial and chemical construction and development, permitting and many other fields which Geomega is now entering into.

Kiril Mugerman, President and CEO of Geomega, said: “Hatch has taken part in some of the most complex recent mining and processing projects in Canada and globally, and is well suited to bring Geomega its technical and project delivery expertise to this demonstration plant project.

“With a strong engineering partner, government support and significant interest in the rare earth sector today globally, we are very excited to develop the first rare earths magnet recycling facility outside of Asia right here in Quebec, Canada.”

He added that other major milestones will be announced in the near future as the company puts forward its strategy to develop the rare earths magnet recycling facility in St Bruno.

Based in Montreal, Geomega Resources has developed a proprietary in-situ recovery technology that recycles rare earth elements, it says. The corporation is targeting 2020 for initial production from its demonstration plant.

Miners need to do more in climate change, decarbonisation battle, McKinsey says

A report from consultancy McKinsey has raised concerns about the mining industry’s climate change and decarbonisation strategy, arguing it may not go far enough in reducing emissions in the face of pressure from governments, investors, and activists.

The report, Climate risk and decarbonization: What every mining CEO needs to know, from Lindsay Delevingne, Will Glazener, Liesbet Grégoir, and Kimberly Henderson, explains that extreme weather – tied to the potential effects of climate change – is already disrupting mining operations globally.

“Under the 2015 Paris Agreement, 195 countries pledged to limit global warming to well below 2.0°C, and ideally not more than 1.5°C above preindustrial levels,” the authors said. “That target, if pursued, would manifest in decarbonisation across industries, creating major shifts in commodity demand for the mining industry and likely resulting in declining global mining revenue pools.”

They added: “Mining-portfolio evaluation must now account for potential decarbonisation of other sectors.”

The sector will also face pressure from governments, investors, and society to reduce emissions, according to the authors.

“Mining is currently responsible for 4-7% of greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions globally. Scope 1 and Scope 2 CO2 emissions from the sector (those incurred through mining operations and power consumption, respectively) amount to 1%, and fugitive methane emissions from coal mining are estimated at 3-6%.

“A significant share of global emissions – 28% – would be considered Scope 3 (indirect) emissions, including the combustion of coal.”

While there have been a number of high-profile mining companies making carbon emission pledges in the past 18 months – BHP pledging $400 million of investment in a low carbon plan being one notable example – the authors say the industry has only just begun to set emissions-reduction goals.

“Current targets published by mining companies range from 0-30% by 2030, far below the Paris Agreement goals, which may not be ambitious enough in many cases,” they said.

Through operational efficiency, and electrification and renewable-energy use, mines can theoretically fully decarbonise (excluding fugitive methane), according to the authors, with the disclaimer that building a climate strategy, “won’t be quick or easy”.

Water/heat

Water stress was one area the authors homed in on, saying that climate change is expected to cause more frequent droughts and floods, altering the supply of water to mining sites and disrupting operations.

The authors, using McKinsey’s MineSpans database on copper, gold, iron ore, and zinc, recently ran and analysed a water-stress and flooding scenario to emphasise the incoming problems.

The authors found that 30-50% of the production of these four commodities is concentrated in areas where water stress is already “high”.

“In 2017, these sites accounted for roughly $150 billion in total annual revenues and were clustered into seven water-stress ‘hot spots’ for mining: Central Asia, the Chilean coast, eastern Australia, the Middle East, southern Africa, western Australia, and a large zone in western North America,” the authors said.

The authors continued: “Climate science indicates that these hot spots will worsen in the coming decades. In Chile, 80% of copper production is already located in ‘extremely high’ water-stressed and ‘arid’ areas; by 2040, it will be 100%. In Russia, 40% of the nation’s iron ore production, currently located in ‘high’ water-stressed areas, is likely to move to ‘extreme’ water stress by 2040.”

And, mining regions not accustomed to water stress are projected to become increasingly vulnerable, according to the report.

By 2040, 5% of current gold production likely will shift from ‘low–medium’ water stress to ‘medium–high’; 7% of zinc output could move from ‘medium–high’ to ‘high’ water stress, and 6% of copper production could shift from ‘high’ to ‘extremely high’ water stress.

The authors said: “Depending on the water-intensiveness of the processing approach, such changes, while seemingly minor in percentage terms, could be critical to a mine’s operations or licence to operate.”

Mining executives in these regions are acutely aware of the water issue, according to the authors.

“For instance, Leagold Mining recently shut down its RDM gold mine in Brazil for two months because of drought conditions, even though it had built a dam and a water pipeline,” they said.

Even in areas with low water stress, certain water-intensive mining processes are jeopardised.

“In Germany – not a country known for being vulnerable to drought – a potash miner was forced to close two locations because of severe water shortages in the summer of 2018, losing nearly $2 million a day per site,” they said.

“The frequency and severity of these conditions are expected to increase along with the current climate trajectory.”

To improve resiliency, companies can reduce the water intensity of their mining processes, the authors said. They can also recycle used water and reduce water loss from evaporation, leaks, and waste. Mining companies can, for example, prevent evaporation by putting covers on small and medium dams.

In the long term, more capital-intensive approaches are possible, according to the authors. This could involve new water infrastructure, such as dams and desalination plants. Companies can also rely on so-called “natural capital”, like wetland areas, to improve groundwater drainage.

The authors said: “The option of securing water rights is becoming harder and can take years of engagement because of increased competition for natural resources and tensions between operators and local communities. Basin and regional planning with regulatory and civic groups is an important strategy but cannot alone solve the underlying problem of water stress.”

On the reverse, flooding from extreme rains can also cause operational disruptions, including mine closure, washed-out roads, or unsafe water levels in tailing dams, with flooding affecting some commodities more than others based on their locations.

The authors’ analysis showed iron ore and zinc are the most exposed to ‘extremely high’ flood occurrence, at 50% and 40% of global volume, respectively.

“The problem is expected to get worse, particularly in six ‘wet spots’ likely to experience a 50-60% increase in extreme precipitation this century: northern Australia, South America, and southern Africa during Southern Hemisphere summer, and central and western Africa, India and Southeast Asia, and Indonesia during Southern Hemisphere winter,” the authors said.

Companies can adopt flood-proof mine designs that improve drainage and pumping techniques, the authors said, mentioning the adaptation of roads, or the building of sheeted haul roads, as examples.

Moving to an in-pit crushing and conveying method would also help alleviate potential floods, replacing mine site haulage and haul roads with conveyors.

When it comes to incoming extreme heat in already-hot places – like China, parts of North and West Africa and Australia – the authors noted that worker productivity could fall and cooling costs may rise, in additon to putting workers’ health (and sometimes their lives) at risk.

“Indirect socioeconomic consequences from climate change can also affect the political environment surrounding a mine,” they said.

Shifting commodity demand

Ongoing decarbonisation is likely to have a major impact on coal – “currently about 50% of the global mining market, would be the most obvious victim of such shifts”, the authors said – but it would also affect virgin-ore markets.

“In a 2°C scenario, bauxite, copper, and iron ore will see growth from new decarbonisation technologies offset by increased recycling rates, as a result of the growing circular economy and focus on metal production from recycling versus virgin ore,” they said.

At the other end of the spectrum, niche minerals could experience dramatic growth. As the global electrification of industries continues, electric vehicles and batteries will create growth markets for cobalt, lithium, and nickel.

Emerging technologies such as hydrogen fuel cells and carbon capture would also boost demand for platinum, palladium, and other catalyst materials, while rare earths would be needed for wind-turbine magnets.

The authors said: “Fully replacing revenues from coal will be difficult. Yet many of the world’s biggest mining companies will need to rebalance non-diverse mineral portfolios.

“Many of the largest mining companies derive the bulk of their earnings from one or two commodities. Copper-heavy portfolios may benefit from demand growth due to widespread electrification, for example. And iron ore- and aluminium-heavy portfolios may see an upside from decarbonisation technologies, but they are also more likely to be hit by rising recycling rates.”

According to the authors, the mining industry generates between 1.9 and 5.1 gigatons of CO2-equivalent of annual greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions. Further down the value chain (Scope 3 emissions), the metals industry contributes roughly 4.2 gigatons, mainly through steel and aluminium production.

To stay on track for a global 2°C scenario, all sectors would need to reduce CO2 emissions from 2010 levels by at least 50% by 2050, they said.

To limit warming to 1.5°C, a reduction of at least 85% would likely be needed.

“Mining companies’ published emissions targets tend to be more modest than that, setting low targets, not setting targets beyond the early 2020s, or focusing on emissions intensity rather than absolute numbers,” the authors said.

To estimate decarbonisation potential in mining, the authors started with a baseline of current emissions by fuel source, based on the MineSpans database of mines’ operational characteristics, overlaid with the possible impact of, and constraints on, several mining decarbonisation levers.

The potential for mines varied by commodity, mine type, power source, and grid emissions, among other factors.

“Across the industry, non-coal mines could fully decarbonise by using multiple levers. Some are more economical than others – operational efficiency, for example, can make incremental improvements to the energy intensity of mining production while requiring little capital expenditure,” they said. Moving to renewable sources of electricity is becoming increasingly feasible too, even in off-grid environments, as the cost of battery packs is projected to decline 50% from 2017 to 2030, according to the authors.

“Electrification of mining equipment, such as diesel trucks and gas-consuming appliances, is only starting to become economical. Right now, only 0.5% of mining equipment is fully electric.

“However, in some cases, battery-electric vehicles have a 20% lower total cost of ownership versus traditional internal-combustion-engine vehicles. Newmont, for example, recently started production at its all-electric Borden mine in Ontario, Canada.”

The authors said: “Several big mining companies have installed their own sustainability committees, signalling that mining is joining the wave of corporate sustainability reporting and activity. Reporting emissions and understanding decarbonisation pathways are the first steps toward setting targets and taking action.”

Yet, these actions are currently too modest to reach the 1.5-2°C scenario and may not be keeping up with society’s expectations – “as increasingly voiced by investors seeking disclosures, companies asking their suppliers to decarbonise, and communities advocating for action on environmental issues”.

They concluded: “Mining companies concerned about their long-term reputation, licence to operate, or contribution to decarbonisation efforts may start to consider more aggressive decarbonisation and resilience plans.”

Arafura brings KBR into Nolans neodymium-praseodymium project team

Arafura Resources has appointed KBR as the Project Management Consultant to the integrated project management team (IPMT) at its Nolans neodymium-praseodymium (NdPr) project in the Northern Territory of Australia.

A definitive feasibility study on Nolans envisaged a combination of phosphate and rare earth extraction processes to produce an average annual production of 4,357 t of NdPr and 135,808 t of merchant-grade phosphoric acid over an initial mine life of 23 years.

KBR is, according to Arafura, a globally recognised Tier One project management consultancy that has a wealth of knowledge and delivery experience across many complex projects in mineral processing, hydrometallurgy, and oil and gas. It recently helped complete the OZ Minerals-owned Carrapateena copper project, in South Australia, performing a similar role in an integrated management team with OZ, the company said.

The scope of work for the IPMT encompasses management of all aspects of the project, according to Arafura, with the KBR team to be integrated with Arafura project personnel to build on the existing project knowledge and supplement it with proven project delivery solutions and systems.

As part of the IPMT, KBR has also partnered with Wave International as a sub-consultant. Wave has minerals processing experience including in rare earths and will provide additional engineering depth to the project as well as undertake the engineering design of selected non-process infrastructure, Arafura said.

Arafura Managing Director, Gavin Lockyer, said: “KBR brings a proven track record, systems and global experience to the project which will enhance our existing capabilities. Through their partnership with Wave, which has assisted the Arafura team with the definitive feasibility study and execution readiness activities to date, there will be a continuity of knowledge and momentum, moving into the project delivery activities.”

Wayne Nolan, KBR’s Vice President of Infrastructure Services Australia, said: “KBR is excited for the opportunity to be involved in the Nolans project and looks forward to bringing the project successfully through construction and production. We will bring together our local expertise in the resources sector, and best practice experience from similar programs of works elsewhere in the world to deliver these services.”

Hastings, TOMRA see potential for XRT ore sorting at Yangibana rare earths project

TOMRA’s X-ray Transmission (XRT) ore sorting innovation has another positive industry reference to hand after Hastings Technology Metals said off-the-shelf technology had proven extremely effective at removing dilution on samples used in the testing program at its Yangibana rare earths project in Western Australia.

Testing on a 1.8 t sorted bulk sample had seen a 95.1% recovery of contained Nd2O3+Pr6O11 (neodymium and praseodymium), a 52% increase in head grade from 0.71% to 1.08% Nd2O3+Pr6O11, and a 37.1% mass rejection, Hastings said.

This shows XRT technology could be applied to separate out a barren waste stream from the ore, according to the ASX-listed company, presenting an opportunity to remove waste dilution material from the mining process before the material is fed into the processing plant – resulting in energy and reagent savings in the beneficiation circuit.

The testing involved the crushed bulk ore sample of 1.8 t being screened into two size fractions (10.5 mm) and (plus-10.5mm), with the sortable fraction (plus-10.5 mm)after being diluted with waste material at either 35% or 60% proportions screened on a TOMRA commercial sorter using XRT technology at 32 t/h feed rate.

In the base case, sorted ore samples, crushed and screened to plus-10.5 mm and diluted with 35% waste material, a total of 37.1% of the sample mass was rejected at a grade of 0.09%Nd2O3+Pr6O11, representing a loss of Nd2O3+Pr6O11 of just 4.9%, or an overall recovery of 95.1%Nd2O3+Pr6O11 in the ore. A corresponding 52% increase or upgrade in the ore head grade was achieved from 0.71% to 1.08% Nd2O3+Pr6O11.

In the sorted sample diluted with 60% waste material, the ore sorting test work program achieved an upgrade factor of 2.16 taking the feed grade from 0.43% Nd2O3+Pr6O11 to 0.93%Nd2O3+Pr6O11, while recovering 90.6% of the Nd2O3+Pr6O11, the company said.

Hasting said: “The full opportunity for including ore sorting technology into the Yangibana process flowsheet is still being assessed. Based on these test work results, technical and engineering programs will continue to investigate the benefits that can be realised across the project.”

The proposed beneficiation and hydro metallurgy processing plant at Yangibana will treat rare earths deposits, predominantly monazite, hosting high neodymium and praseodymium contents to produce a mixed rare earths carbonate that will be further refined into individual rare earth oxides at processing plants overseas, according to Hastings.

A definitive feasibility study in 2017, based on a 5.15 Mt reserve, detailed a production rate of 1 Mt/y to produce up to 15,000 t/y of mixed rare earths carbonate at Yangibana.

DRA graduates from FEED to plant EPCM at Yangibana rare earths project

DRA Global’s Pacific division has been rewarded for previous work on Hastings Technology Metals’ Yangibana rare earths project, in Western Australia, with the company now receiving the engineering, procurement, construction and management (EPCM) contract for the project’s processing plant.

The EPCM contract, the single largest dollar value contract associated with the project, will cover all aspects of the design and construction of the processing facility and associated non-process infrastructure capable of producing 15,000 t/y of mixed rare earths carbonate (MREC), Hastings said.

The appointment followed a series of value engineering studies and the front end engineering design (FEED) completed by DRA Pacific during 2018 and 2019. Works directed under the EPCM contract have an estimated value of around A$350 million ($241 million).

The key component of the contract terms is the comprehensive performance guarantee linked to ore throughput for the entire process flowsheet at Yangibana, in Western Australia, according to Hastings.

“The appointment of DRA Pacific as the EPCM contractor for Hastings represents another critical milestone for the project, reinforcing that Yangibana is execution ready,” Hastings said.

“Choosing DRA Pacific was the logical choice given the already close working relationship built up over the last 15 months, and the experience in rare earths processing plant design that DRA Pacific bring to the table.”

Charles Lew, Hastings Executive Chairman, said DRA’s knowledge and experience in developing successful minerals processing projects made them the “ideal candidate” to manage the construction of the project.

He added: “The award of the EPCM contract moves the Yangibana rare earths project firmly into development phase to commence project execution and progress to production of our mixed rare earth carbonate by 2022.”

Andrew Naude, Chief Executive Officer of DRA Global, said: “Awarding the execution of this internationally important rare earths project on the Australian Continent to DRA is testament to DRA’s position as the preferred technical partner for projects of this nature.

“We have put together a very strong team for the delivery of the project and our Project Manager has significant experience in delivering successful projects.”

The EPCM contract is a fundamental requirement of Hastings’ debt providers and hence is pivotal to the project financing process, Hastings said. A definitive feasibility study in 2017, based on a 5.15 Mt reserve, detailed a production rate of 1 Mt/y to produce up to 15,000 t/y of mixed rare earths carbonate.

Mkango gives SENET the leading role for Songwe Hill rare earths DFS

Mkango Resources has appointed DRA Global’s SENET as Lead Engineer and Project Manager for completion of a feasibility study on the Songwe Hill rare earths project in Malawi.

SENET’s appointment is another key milestone for completion of the study, which is being funded by Mkango’s strategic partner Talaxis Ltd. A number of workstreams are underway, including mining studies, comminution, flotation, hydrometallurgical test work, and studies in relation to the environmental, social and health impact assessment.

Mkango says SENET has longstanding experience in project management and in providing detailed multidiscipline engineering, procurement, logistics management, and construction services to the mining, mineral processing, infrastructure and materials handling industries. It has carried out many studies for mining companies throughout Africa and boasts the largest and most advanced hydrometallurgical process engineering team on the continent, according to Mkango.

William Dawes, Chief Executive of Mkango, said: “The selection of SENET was measured against a range of criteria, and its technical capabilities and African experience were key factors in the decision. Mkango has the right financial and technical partnerships in place to enable development of Songwe into Africa’s leading producer of rare earths.”

The main exploration target in the 51% -held Phalombe licence is the Songwe Hill rare earths deposit. This features carbonatite-hosted rare earth mineralisation and was subject to previous exploration in the late 1980s. Mkango completed an updated prefeasibility study for the project in November 2015, with a feasibility study currently underway, the initial phases of which included a 10,900 m drilling program and an updated mineral resource estimate. In March 2019, the company announced receipt of a £7 million ($8.7 million) investment from Talaxis to fund completion of the study.