Northern Minerals has awarded MACA a $6 million mining contract for the Browns Range heavy rare earth pilot plant project in Western Australia.
Perth-based Northern approved development of a $56 million pilot plant at the heavy rare earths project last month. It will use the plant to assess the economic feasibility of a full-scale project.
Under the agreement with MACA, the contractor will mine 180,000 tonnes of ore and associated waste from the Wolverine and Gambit West pits at Browns Range.
The waste material will be used to construct a tailings storage facility and other infrastructure at the site. MACA, which will mobilise its fleet at the site next month, will also clear the site for the Browns Range processing plant and construct internal road access.
Mining will be undertaken in a single campaign, with all ore stockpiled ahead of the three-year pilot plant phase.
According to Northern, an agreement for bulk earthworks at Browns Range is also close to signing and will increase the contract value to $10 million.
Northern managing director George Bauk said following approval of the pilot plant the appointment of MACA as the mining partner ensure that everything would be in place ahead of the plant installation in late 2017.
“MACA is a quality contractor with a very good industry reputation for reliability and experience,” Bauk said.
Northern is aiming to become the first significant producer of dysprosium outside of China with the Browns Range project, which has several deposits and prospects containing high value product.
The three-year pilot plant is expected to start production of heavy rare earth carbonate in first half 2018.
MACA was also named the preferred contractor for the bulk earthworks package at the Gruyere gold project in WA last month. Gruyere is a joint venture between Gold Road Resources and Gold Fields.