Lynas Corporation has selected Kalgoorlie, Western Australia as the home for its cracking and leaching plant for rare earth minerals processing.
This is the first step to making the historic mining town, which is known as the gold capital of Australia, a critical minerals hub.
The Goldfields city was one of two finalists being considered as a location for the plant. It was selected due to its close proximity to Lynas’ Mt Weld mine and Kalgoorlie’s existing skilled workforce and history in the mining and processing industries.
The cracking and leaching plant project is expected to create around 500 construction jobs and 200 ongoing jobs in Kalgoorlie once approval processes are finalised.
Mt Weld’s rare earth concentrate is currently exported to Malaysia for processing, but the cracking and leaching plant is a further step to advance the Australian government’s critical minerals strategy.
The Western Australian rare earth industry is still expanding. In 2018/19, the state produced 29,000 tonnes of rare earth materials, directly increasing employment by three per cent.
It will also help the Western Australian Government achieve its objective for more downstream processing and allow Lynas to explore opportunities for next stage upstream solvent extraction processing in the state.
Lynas has signed an option to sublease an industrial zoned property from the City of Kalgoorlie-Boulder, with the terms of the lease now being finalised.
Company chief executive and managing director Amanda Lacaze said Lynas was excited to establish the plant in Kalgoorlie and contribute to the city’s economic development.
“Kalgoorlie is a terrific city and an ideal location for our new cracking and leaching plant,” she said.
“Lynas was built from the ground up as an environmentally responsible rare earths producer and we will take the same approach for our facility in Kalgoorlie.
“The signing of this option is an important step for our project, and we look forward to updating the market on its progress.”
As well as diversifying Kalgoorlie’s production and employment options, Lynas will be upskilling miners, chemists and engineers of the future working with tertiary students at the site.
“I’m pleased Lynas will continue to work with Curtin University and the Western Australian School of Mines to enhance knowledge and technologies surrounding the processing of critical minerals in Australia,” Western Australian Premier Mark McGowan said upon Lynas’ announcement.
“Kalgoorlie has a long and rich history in mining innovation, so there is no better place for Lynas Corporation to set up their processing operations.”
The Mt Weld operation is one of the highest grade rare earth deposits in the world, putting Western Australia in a prime position to capitalise on globally-significant battery and rare earth minerals.