Alkane Resources’ Dubbo Zirconia Project is a step closer to gaining final approval after the NSW Department of Planning and Environment gave the project the green light.
The DZP will now move to the Planning and Assessment Commission for review, with final determination expected by the end of the year.
Located 25 kilometres south of Dubbo, the $1 billion DZP is promoted by Alkane as a strategic and alternate source of zirconium and heavy rare earth products capable of long-term supply.
If the project gets final approval it will create 450 jobs and have a 70-year lifespan, with Alkane targeting first production in 2016.
Confident the project will get the green light, Alkane has awarded DZP’s Front End Engineering Design (FEED) to engineering firm Hatch.
The FEED will deliver capital and operating costs estimates to a target of 10 per cent accuracy and a detailed schedule for the project, building on the work of Alkane’s definitive feasibility study.
Completion of the FEED will provide Alkane with the core cost estimates for use in its bankable feasibility study.
Funding for the development of the project is expected to come from Export Credit Agency Funding (ECA), normal project finance as well as a small strategic sale of a percentage of DZP.
Alkane CEO Ian Chalmers said rare earth metals are considered as a strategic play by many countries including Japan, Korea, Europe and North America.
Production from the DZP is estimated to meet two per cent of global light rare-earth element demand and eight per cent of heavy rare-earth element demand.
It will also meet eight per cent of the world’s demand for zirconium products and three per cent of niobium demand.
Chalmers said the DZP presents a world-first opportunity for NSW to step into the world of rare earth mining and processing.
“These are very advanced metals that are used have advanced applications. DZP will have that flow on affect in royalties, taxation and wages back to the state of NSW," Chalmers said.
“It will also put Australia on the map in terms of exporting these metals.”