Northern Minerals achieves mechanical completion at heavy rare earths plant

Browns Range pilot plant at night. Image: Northern Minerals

Northern Minerals has reached mechanical completion at its Browns Range dysprosium pilot plant, having installed, powered up and tested all its plant components.

The plant, having the beneficiation plant load commissioned in June, has produced around 100 tonnes of xenotime concentrate.

Northern Minerals managing director George Bauk said, “Given we have only been commissioning the pilot plant for a short period of time, early results from the beneficiation plant are very encouraging.

“Whilst a lot of work remains in the beneficiation plant to achieve key targets, focus will broaden to include the hydrometallurgical plant.”

The 100t stockpile of xenotime concentrate will now usher Browns Range operations into commissioning the back end of the hydromet plant, Bauk said.

Dysprosium and terbium were first discovered in 2010, setting the Browns Range project at nearly eight years in the making.

A full-scale plant operation at Browns Range will process 585,000tp/y to produce 279,000kg of dysprosium.

Dysprosium is an essential component in the making of electric vehicles (EV), whose permanent magnets nearly always contain dysprosium. Dysprosium and terbium are also used in wind turbines, industrial robots, air conditioning and other new technologies in development.

The Browns Range plant is 160km south east of Halls Creek in northern Western Australia. It is the first producer of heavy rare earths (HREs) outside of China.

To keep up to date with Australian Mining, subscribe to our free email newsletters delivered straight to your inbox. Click here.