The miner expects to begin construction activities pertaining to the rare earths expansion project in early 2023, with full operation targeted for 2024


Construction activities related to the Mt Weld expansion project are expected to begin next year. (Credit: Khusen Rustamov from Pixabay)

Lynas Rare Earths said that it will invest nearly A$500m ($347m) for expanding the capacity at its Mt Weld rare earths mine and concentration plant in Western Australia.

The proposed expansion will meet the fast-growing market demand for rare earth materials, claimed the Australian mining company.

According to Lynas Rare Earths, the expansion project aligns with the company’s 2025 growth plan that was announced in May 2019. As per the plan, the Australian miner has been targeting an increase of 50% in its production of Neodymium-Praseodymium (NdPr) to 10,500 tonnes per annum by 2025.

In line with the plan, the miner will pursue substantial development of the Mt Weld ore body as well as the beneficiation circuit.

It stated that the initial expansion will target an increase in feedstock production capacity from 7,000 tonnes per year of NdPr equivalent to 12,000 tonnes per year of NdPr equivalent in 2024. This expansion has been scoped fully and the announced investment for Mt Weld is completely funded from cash flow, said the company.

The company revealed that further expansion of capacity in existing upstream and downstream production along with growth options for 2025 and beyond are being developed. This covers two more stages at the Mt Weld mine which are said to provide a pathway to a further 2,400 tonnes NdPr equivalent per annum each.

Lynas Rare Earths said that the significant possibility for further development of the ore body was shown by the 1km deep exploration drill hole completed last year, which displayed continuous mineralisation of rare earths.

Depending on receipt of relevant regulatory and stakeholder approvals, the miner expects to begin construction activities in early 2023, with full operation targeted for 2024.

Lynas CEO and managing director Amanda Lacaze said: “This investment is supported by our high grade, long life and reliable source of feedstock, the remarkable Mt Weld ore body.

“Having a long life resource is an essential foundation for success in the rare earths market and the recent 1km deep drilling has demonstrated Mt Weld’s potential to supply feedstock for many years into the future. The Mt Weld capacity expansion project aims to unlock its true value in the most efficient and sustainable way to 2025 and beyond.”

Earlier this year, the Australian miner signed an agreement with the US government to build a commercial light rare earths separation facility in the country.