New mine for rare earths and other critical raw materials receives green light.
The Australian company Iluka is the world’s largest producer of zircon, the most important zirconium and hafnium ore. The mining of the ore also reveals elements of the rare earths group. Iluka plans to process these from 2025 in its own refinery, which is being built in Eneabba, in the west of the country. To meet growing demand for rare earths and other critical minerals, the company has now given the green light to develop a new mine (PDF). The Balranald project in eastern Australia will come on stream in the first half of 2025, Iluka said. The investment amounts to the equivalent of about 310 million euros, according to The West Australian.
Mining will take place with the help of the UGM remote-controlled underground mining technology. The company describes this proprietary development as the equivalent of keyhole surgery in medicine. The environment would be significantly less polluted as a result, it adds. Iluka CEO Tom O’Leary describes diversification in the rare earths sector as a decisive change for the company.
Figures for the fiscal year closed in December were also presented on Tuesday, with record sales of the equivalent of 1.17 billion USD. Profit after tax rose by 61% to 405 million USD.