Iluka approved for $1.2bn processing powerhouse


Iluka Resources’ Board has approved phase three construction of its Eneabba rare earths refinery in Western Australia, allowing the company to process its own and third-party material.

The approval followed the completion of a feasibility study which outlined a processing capacity of 17,500 tonnes per annum of rare earth oxides.

The refinery’s capital cost will be between $1 billion and $1.2 billion, with the Federal Government signing on to a risk-sharing agreement plus funding from its critical minerals facility.

Iluka managing director and chief executive officer Tom O’Leary said the facility would turn his company into a processing powerhouse.

“Rare earths are among the key building blocks of an electrified economy and our final investment decision for phase three will see Eneabba become a strategic hub for the downstream processing of Australia’s rare earths resources,” O’Leary stated.

“The refinery has been designed specifically to have the capacity to be globally material, the capability to process both Iluka’s feedstocks and those held by third parties, and to have minimal environmental impact, including as a result of being located entirely on a brownfields site.”

There is also potential for the facility to perform rare earth metallisation too, if Iluka should ever need it.

Construction will commence in the second half of 2022, with first production expected in 2025.

O’Leary added that this timeline will be aided by the lack of supplementary infrastructure.

“Phase three will be fed initially from the Eneabba stockpile,” he said.

“By virtue of being very high grade and not requiring any mining infrastructure, this provides speed to market and solid economics over an indicative life of nine years.”

Phase two construction began in August 2021 and completion is scheduled for the first half of 2022.

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