Australia-based engineering services provider Ausenco Services has secured a contract to conduct an engineering scoping study on the Caldeira rare earth ionic clay project, located in the state of Minas Gerais, Brazil.

The contract has been awarded by Australian exploration company Meteoric Resources, which is the sole owner of the Caldeira project.

Under the terms of the contract, Ausenco will conduct the scoping study on the Caldeira rare earths project to a Class 5 Engineering cost estimate standard.

Meteoric Resources CEO Nick Holthouse said: “Ausenco are well recognised as industry leaders in their field. We are pleased to have them as part of our team at Caldeira and look forward to building on the strong relationship we already have with them.

“The Study will provide economic, engineering and environmental data and deliverables for the Project, whilst helping to refine parameters and next steps for the development pathway for this high-grade, high-recovery and strategically located asset.”

Ausenco will work in coordination with the teams in Australia and Brazil, to complete the scoping study as per the schedule, in Q1 2024.

The study includes the review and assessment of options for plant location, infrastructure and logistics, mining options, fleet and equipment sizing, capital, and operating costs.

It will review schedules for mining and backfilling, options for water management, processing, throughput and equipment sizing and sensitivity analysis.

The study will also review capital and operating costs, project implementation schedule, project Risk register and assessment, and financial modelling.

In addition, the Ausenco study will focus only on the three Southern licenses of Figuera, Capao de Mel and Soberbo, said Meteoric Resources.

Ausenco APAC/Africa president Reuben Joseph said: “Ausenco looks forward to working with Meteoric to develop the Caldeira Project, which was recently announced as a Tier 1 Ionic Clay Rare Earth Element (REE) Project with the world’s highest-grade deposit of this type.

“Ausenco brings a proven ability to drive superior and optimised shareholder value outcomes from our studies, and in doing so creates a solid foundation for the subsequent development of the Project.

“Ausenco are ideally placed to work closely with Meteoric’s head office in Perth, delivering the study from our Perth office with local knowledge provided by our Brazil office.”