Lynas Corporation is on track to commence the construction of its Kalgoorlie rare earth processing facility in Western Australia in mid-2021.
Lynas chief executive Amanda Lacaze, speaking at the company’s general meeting, said that high level design for the facility had been completed.
The company is now working on detailed engineering design and procurement using learnings from Lynas Malaysia.
“I am particularly looking forward to the arrival of the rotary kiln as Lynas vice president upstream) Kam (Leung) assures me it will be really spectacular as it is lifted into place,” she said.
Beyond the progress of the processing facility, Lynas has expanded its product range by separating its production of neodymium-praseodymium (NdPr) to two separate products, to deliver more value for the company.
Price outcomes from separated Nd and Pr were positive, Lacaze said, with the former realising a premium of around $US2-3 ($2.7-$4.1) per kilogram over NdPr.
The company is also separating its medium and heavy rare earth feedstock, which is currently sold in the form of SEG (samarium, europium and gadolinium) to a separator in China.
“The market is strong and attractive and we expect that demand for and price of these elements will continue to grow as demand for high power electric motors grow,” Lacaze said.
Despite the uncertainty introduced by the global pandemic, the chief executive noted that demand appeared to be returning to pre-COVID-19 levels, particularly in Japan and China.
Demand for magnetic materials was also showing greater recovery than that for catalytic materials.
At Lynas’ Mt Weld operation in Western Australia, the company has drilled deeper below the area of the mineral resources and ore reserves.
It reported significant and continuous intersections of rare earth minerals, including light and heavy rare earth elements.
“A cornerstone of Lynas’ 2025 growth strategy is ongoing access to high quality rare earth feedstock,” Lacaze concluded.
“… In practical terms, Lynas seeks to maintain ore reserves with greater than 25 years life.
“… We are committed to exploring below the current mineral resource to understand the potential for primary REE (rare earth element) mineralisation below the weathered zone.”