Funding, News, Partnerships, Rare earths

Victorian rare earths mine backed by US investment


A rare earths and mineral sands project in Victoria is another step closer to production thanks to a $183 million funding boost from US uranium miner Energy Fuels Inc.

Astron Corporation’s Donald project in west Victoria is at the heart of the deal, which involves farm-in, joint venture, and offtake agreements that will see Energy Fuels become a 49 per cent owner.

Energy Fuels will immediately assume responsibility for funding 100 per cent of the Donald project expenditure in the form of an interest free loan to the joint venture company.

Construction of the project is expected to start in 2025, with rare earths concentrate to be shipped to Energy Fuels’ White Mesa Mill processing facility in Utah by 2026.

Astron managing director Tiger Brown said the joint venture with Energy Fuels will establish a Western rare earth value chain aligned with the Australian Government’s Critical Minerals Strategy.

“The execution of this agreement represents a transformational moment in our company’s history,” Brown said.

“In Energy Fuels, we have found a joint venture partner that shares our values, our goals and focus, one that strongly complements our mineral sands experience and aspirations with their own rare earth experience and strategy.”

Energy Fuels president and chief executive officer Mark Chalmers shared Brown’s sentiment, highlighting Donald as a ‘world class’ project.

“I’ll add that our joint venture plans with Astron and the timing of the Donald project development could not be better and fits very nicely with the sequencing of our US Critical Mineral Hub initiative, which includes advancing our rare earth element and heavy mineral sand production,” Chalmers said.

“We believe the Donald project will be a ‘flagship’ mining project for Australia and the State of Victoria and the USA, producing many of the rare earth element raw materials needed for the energy transition perfectly aligned with the critical mineral objectives of both countries.”

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