03/08/2022 - 11:13

Lynas announces $500m mine expansion

03/08/2022 - 11:13

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Lynas Rare Earths plans to substantially expand production capacity at its Mt Weld mine, adding to a big investment it is already making in downstream processing in the Goldfields.

Lynas announces $500m mine expansion
Amanda Lacaze says demand for rare earths is growing at pace.

Lynas Rare Earths plans to substantially expand production capacity at its Mt Weld mine, adding to a big investment it is already making in downstream processing in the Goldfields.

It will invest $500 million at Mt Weld to accelerate and increase its expansion.

The higher production at Mt Weld will feed into its Kalgoorlie Rare Earths Processing Facility, under construction at a cost of $500 million.

This includes some upgrades at its refinery in Malaysia.

The expansion projects are designed to meet increased demand for rare earths elements, notably neodymium and praseodymium (NdPr), which are a key ingredient in the batteries used in electric vehicles and wind farms.

The Mt Weld expansion will target feedstock production capacity of 12,000 tonnes per annum NdPr equivalent by 2024.

The company said further capacity expansions in its upstream and downstream production facilities were being developed.

This could include two additional stages at Mt Weld, to deliver an additional 2,400 tonnes NdPr equivalent pa each.

The investment announced today builds on the company’s existing growth plan, which targeted a 50 per cent increase in NdPr production from 7,000 tonnes currently to 10,500 tonnes pa by 2025.

“To meet Lynas’ ambition to grow with the market, this previously announced growth plan must be accelerated and increased,” the company said today.

The Mt Weld expansion project is expected to create up to 300 jobs during the construction phase and over 100 ongoing operational jobs in the Goldfields region.

That is on top of the 209 construction jobs and 128 operational jobs being created at the Kalgoorlie processing facility.

Managing director Amanda Lacaze said the rare earths market was growing at pace as the world transitioned to new energy technologies.

“Lynas has a decade long track record in responsible rare earths production and the $500 million Mt Weld expansion project we are announcing today is designed to ensure we continue to grow with the market as a supplier of choice,” she said.

“This investment is supported by our high grade, long life and reliable source of feedstock, the remarkable Mt Weld ore body.

“Having a long-life resource is an essential foundation for success in the rare earths market and the recent 1km deep drilling has demonstrated Mt Weld’s potential to supply feedstock for many years into the future.

“The Mt Weld capacity expansion project aims to unlock its true value in the most efficient and sustainable way to 2025 and beyond.”

The company said the Mt Weld expansion has been fully scoped and was fully funded from cash flow.

It includes upscaled processing equipment and efficiency improvements and will provide a platform for further capacity increases.

The company’s plans also include a staged transition from diesel power generation to gas and then hybrid renewable power generation.

Construction activities are expected to commence in early 2023, with full operation planned for 2024.

The Lynas expansion coincides with Iluka Resources investing $1 billion in Australia’s first fully-integrated rare earths refinery in the Mid West.

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