Rare Earths: Arafura’s Nolans Project Takes the Next Steps

by | 29. Apr 2024 - 10:53 | Economy

The mining company reported on its quarterly activities.

Australian rare earth mining company Arafura reported its quarterly activities on Monday, highlighting that the Nolans rare earth project in the Northern Territory is “shovel ready” and is awaiting the final investment decision (PDF). Arafura aims to establish Australia’s first combined rare earth ore-to-oxide mine and processing facility at Nolans, which has the capacity to supply roughly four percent of the world’s neodymium-praseodymium (NdPr) oxide demand, according to the company. These oxides are predominantly used in the production of rare earth permanent magnets needed for wind turbines and electric vehicle motors. During the quarter ended March, Arafura secured $533 million in government support for Nolans, following $150 million from South Korea’s Exim Bank in the previous quarter, underlining the potential many stakeholders see in the project. Nolans awaits the final investment decision, after which Arafura will immediately begin further groundwork if successful. Production is targeted to start in 2027. Currently, Australian rare earths are shipped abroad to be refined, as Lynas, Australia’s only large-scale operating producer and the world’s largest rare earth miner outside China, has been shipping its material to Malaysia, for example, but has recently commissioned a domestic processing facility in Australia’s south-west.

Rare Earth Developments During the Quarter

Commenting on the macroeconomic developments, Arafura conceded that the NdPr price decreased over 20 percent during the quarter mainly because of China’s dragging economic recovery. However, the People’s Republic’s economy showed some signs of life toward the end of the quarter, prompting the price of rare earths to rally several percent by mid-April. Also in the quarter, Australian mining magnate Gina Rinehart’s company Hancock Prospecting, which holds approximately ten percent of Arafura, increased its stake in Lynas to just under six percent and acquired a stake in American rare earth miner MP Materials, signaling a broader bet on the energy transition and the needed critical minerals.

Photo: iStock/Sunshine Seeds

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