Northern Minerals Limited announced that it has received approval from the Western Australian Department of Mines and Petroleum (DMP) for the Browns Range Pilot Plant Project Management Plan.
“This approval forms a key part of the overall approval process toward the commencement of mining operations,” the company told the ASX.
“Whilst the Brown Range pilot plant is still subject to final financing, the Project received a significant boost last month after Huatai Mining, which is part of Chinese coal trader Shandong Taizhong Energy agreed to inject $30m in equity into Northern Minerals to assist with the construction of the project.”
When constructed, Browns Range will be the only heavy rare earths mine in Australia, with heavy rare earths fetching considerably more than light rare earths on the global market.
The proposed pilot plant, at a scale of 10% of the full scale operation, has a designed front end of 60,000tpa crushing beneficiation circuit, and a 3.200tpa hydrometallurgical plant aimed at producing 590 tonnes of TREO in a mixed RE carbonate including 49tpa of dysprosium.
According to the company, the pilot plant is scheduled to operate for 3 years, in which time a decision to commit to the full scale operation may be made. A full scale plant would take 2 years to construct.
Northern Minerals said it is aiming towards awarding of contracts for the construction of the pilot plant in early 2017, with mining and concentrate production in the second half of 2017.