Hastings Technology Metals has received environmental approval from the Department of Agriculture, Water and the Environment (DAWE) for a hydrometallurgical plant in Western Australia’s Gascoyne region.
The Onslow rare earths plant will be constructed at the Ashburton Northern Strategic Industrial Area (ANSIA), 250 kilometres southwest of Dampier, to streamline processing of rare earths oxide concentrate from the company’s undeveloped Yangibana project.
Hastings executive chairman Charles Lew said the environmental approval was an important piece in the Yangibana puzzle.
“This is a significant milestone for our Yangibana rare earths project and further endorses Hastings’ decision last year to decouple the processing plant from the Yangibana mine site,” Lew said.
“The Commonwealth environmental approval will allow Hastings to construct the Onslow rare earths plant for a full production rate of 15,000 tonnes of MREC (mixed rare earths carbonate) per annum, unlocking the high-quality and praseodymium concentrate-rich rare earths carbonate that we will produce at Yangibana.”
Having the processing plant at ANSIA instead of at Yangibana will reduce up to 80 per cent of the consumables and reagents which would have been transported inland, according to Hastings.
Construction of the Onslow plant will begin in 2022, after early works at Yangibana have been completed, with first MREC forecast for production in early 2024.
In September, Hastings received permission from DevelopmentWA to undertake feasibility studies for the Onslow plant, with conversations on going for a lease of up to 30 years at ANSIA’s Lot 600.
The MREC produced by the eventual plant can be used in sustainable technologies like permanent magnets in products including electric vehicles, wind turbines, robotics, medical applications and digital devices.
In September, Lew said he looked forward to Hastings playing a part in decarbonisation.
“The acceleration in decarbonisation globally in the past 12 months has placed an increasing impetus on the Yangibana project to play a vital part in the transition to a cleaner energy mix, a message we are hearing loud and clear from our offtake partners in Europe and Asia,” Lew said.