Lynas Rare Earths has had its proposal for a processing facility near Kalgoorlie-Boulder recommended for environmental approval by the Environmental Protection Authority (EPA) in Western Australia.
The project will process rare earth concentrate from Lynas’ Mount Weld mine, 380 kilometres north of the Yilkari facility, for an expected 25-year lifetime.
EPA chair Matthew Tonts said several key considerations were mitigated by Lynas’ proposal which satisfied the EPA.
“The EPA has recommended a native vegetation buffer at least 30 metres wide to
screen the facility from residents and the city’s entrance along Great Eastern
Highway,” Tonts said.
“Conditions have also been recommended for waste management to ensure the proponent disposes of waste to an appropriate location at its Mt Weld mine or finds an alternative use for the process-derived waste.”
The EPA stated the need for extra clearing of vegetation had become irrelevant with Lynas withdrawing its proposal for a by-product storage facility, instead sending processing waste back to Mt Weld for disposal.
Since the withdrawal of the long-term by-product storage facility, the proposal now only involves an acid cracking kiln, leaching plant and small temporary by-product (gypsum and iron phosphate) storage areas.
The Mt Weld central lanthanide deposit has a flotation circuit capable of processing 240,000 tonnes per annum for up to 66,000 tonnes of concentrate per annum.
This concentrate has been sent to Lynas’ processing plant in Malaysia since 2012, returning about 26,500 tonnes of rare earth oxide.
Once the Yilkari processing facility is operational, the resulting rare earth carbonate will be transported to Fremantle Port, 625 kilometres west, for export.
The EPA’s recommendation to the Minister for Environment is now open for comment for a two-week appeal period, ending November 3.