Iluka’s Eneabba on track as refinery feasibility progresses

The Eneabba mine site in WA. Image: Iluka Resources

Iluka Resources’ Eneabba rare earths project in Western Australia, the highest-grade rare earths operation in the world, is developing nicely with phase two of the project in progress, the company’s quarterly report outlines.

Once phase two is commissioned, the project will produce a monazite concentrate at approximately 90 per cent, suitable as a direct feed to a downstream rare earths refinery, and a zircon-ilmenite concentrate.

Phase one of the project has produced a mixed monazite-zircon concentrate comprising of 20 per cent monazite, of which the final shipment was made in December 2021.

Phase three, a fully integrated rare earths refinery, is currently under a feasibility study that is on its way to being finalised during the first quarter of 2022.

Zircon production for the company is up 6 per cent from the previous quarter at 93,600 tonnes, whilst rutile production has increased by 23 per cent taking it to 65,100 tonnes.

Over in Victoria, Iluka’s Wimmera project is working on a processing solution to remove the higher levels of impurities in its zircon, so the mineral can be sold into the ceramics market.

The rare earth bearing minerals within the Wimmera deposit are very similar to the stockpiled minerals at Eneabba and could supplement feed to Iluka’s potential downstream refining activities at Eneabba in future years.

The Narngulu mineral separation plant (MSP) in WA continued to operate at full capacity and processed 179,000 tonnes of heavy mineral concentrate (HMC), up from 168,000 tonnes in the last quarter.

The plant processed both Cataby and Jacinth-Ambrosia material to produce a total of 90,000 tonnes of zircon and 28,000 tonnes of rutile.

The Cataby operation produced 159,000 tonnes of HMC, up 7 per cent from 149,000 tonnes in the previous quarter.

Higher HMC production was the result of a 13 per cent increase in ore treatment rates and higher recovery.

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