Lynas sidesteps virus hurdles with production lift

The Mt Weld site. Image: Lynas Corp.

Lynas Corporation has experienced a rise in its March quarterly production despite production constraints inflicted by the coronavirus pandemic.

The company produced 1369 tonnes of neodymium and praseodymium (NdPr), up from 1270 tonnes during the previous period.

Lynas’ rare earth oxide output saw a corresponding rise, with 3592 tonnes produced in the December 2019 period climbing to 4465 tonnes in the following quarter.

The results beat Lynas’ subdued production levels in early January and plant shutdown in late March.

Lynas is seeking the Malaysian Government’s approval to resume operations at its Malaysian plant on the basis of criticality, according to the government’s additional categories of exemption.

The company has continued to see strong demand from its customers in Japan, Europe and the United States this year.

“We are seeing the benefits of our efforts to develop the rare earths market outside China,” Lynas chief executive Amanda Lacaze said.

“In the March quarter, only 10 per cent of our separated rare earth sales were realised in China.

“This reflects the robust growth of our rest of world customers who have secured a sustainable source of supply through Lynas.”

The company is, however, not exempt from feeling the impact of Chinese economic slowdown, which has weighed on rare earth market prices since the end of January.

This is followed by further uncertainty and softness in NdPr prices due to the spread of coronavirus.

To date, there have been no confirmed cases of coronavirus in Lynas’ operations. Only essential team members are working at Lynas’ Western Australian site.

“I am proud that we have been able to continue to pay all of our employees, whether they are working from home, working on site, or are currently not rostered on,” Lacaze said.

“Our company is in a strong financial position and despite the current challenges of COVID-19, we remain committed to progressing our Lynas 2025 growth plan.”

This includes Lynas’ Kalgoorlie processing plant project and a tender submission to the United States Department of Defence for light rare earths separation.

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