Northern Minerals’ $56 million heavy rare earths Browns Range Pilot Plant in the East Kimberley region of Western Australia remains on schedule for commissioning.
The plant’s first component, ring gear for the mill, was delivered on April 28 and first stage commissioning is currently focused on the plant’s crushing circuit, including the crusher and ore conveyor.
“Commissioning at Browns Range has started well, with commissioning systems operating as expected when tested,” said Northern Minerals managing director George Bauk.
Northern Minerals’ main goal upon completion of the plant (scheduled for the end of July) is to become the world’s next significant non-Chinese producer of dysprosium, which is usually hosted in rare earth xenotime phosphate and is significant in the production of permanent magnets and parts for electric cars.
The latter was a point noted by WA Premier Mark McGowan when he launched Browns Range last year, calling it an important project for a “mineral that’s going to play a big part in the world’s future”.
The project, 100 per cent-owned by Northern Minerals, is between the John Galt and Boulder Ridge target areas in WA and the Northern Territory, respectively. It recently received a $4.4 million research and development funding boost from New York-based fund Brevet (Innovation Structured Finance).
“We are on the cusp of production at Browns Range, with a heightened level of interest in the project globally as the only non-Chinese supplier of dysprosium,” added Bauk.