Australian rare earths producer Hastings Technology Metals has secured a A$140m ($99.2) loan from the Federal Government’s Northern Australia Infrastructure Facility (NAIF) for its Yangibana rare earths project.

The approval has been granted for a significant portion of the debt package needed to support the construction of the Yangibana project in the Gascoyne region of Western Australia.

The 12½-year tenor loan facility is part of A$300-400m ($212-283m) of total debt funding needed for the development of Yangibana.

Hastings’ Yangibana project consists of a mine and beneficiation plant at the Yangibana site, as well as a hydrometallurgical plant at the Ashburton North Strategic Industrial Area (ANSIA) near Onslow.

It is expected to become the country’s second rare earths producer and expand the nation’s strategic capability in downstream processing of rare earths minerals.

Yangibana is claimed to host the world’s highest composition of neodymium and praseodymium (NdPr) deposits with a NdPr:TREO ratio of up to 52%.

Hastings executive chairman Charles Lew said: “The commitment by NAIF will enable Hastings to finalise the funding requirements for Yangibana’s development and move into full-scale construction throughout 2022, with the objective of delivering first production by 2024.

“Yangibana is an amazing rare earths opportunity that will supply the world’s highest composition neodymium and praseodymium concentrate to Tier 1 customers in Europe and Asia.”

Hastings has started early site works at Yangibana, as well as secured Commonwealth environmental approvals for the development the hydrometallurgical plant site at ANSIA.

The company is planning to complete supporting infrastructure activities at Yangibana by the middle of this year earlier to the commencement of construction of the beneficiation plant in conjunction with the hydrometallurgical plant.

In addition, the company owns and operates the Brockman project, which is said to be Australia’s largest heavy rare earths deposit located near Halls Creek in the Kimberley.