Yangibana Project is an under-construction rare earths project located in the Gascoyne region of Western Australia.
The project will produce a Mixed Rare Earth Carbonate (MREC) primarily containing Neodymium (Nd) and Praseodymium (Pr).
These materials are used in manufacturing of permanent magnets, a key component for many new technology products such as Electric Vehicles (EV), renewable energy wind turbines and electrical consumer products.
The A$658m ($448.2m) project is owned by Australian rare earths company Hastings Technology Metals.
The Definitive Feasibility Study (DFS) for the Yangibana project was released in November 2017. The rare earth project secured environmental approval in August 2019.
The project is expected to commence production in the second half of 2024. The life of mine of the project is estimated to be 17 years.
Location and Site Details
The Yangibana Project is located 270km east-northeast of Carnarvon in the Gascoyne region of Western Australia.
It includes 650km2 tenement package covering an area that is geologically known as the Gifford Creek Ferrocarbonatite Complex (GCFC).
In January 2023, the company become 100% owner of the entire Yangibana rare earth tenement package after acquiring 30% stake in the joint venture tenements that were previously held by Cadence and its subsidiary Mojito Resources.
Geology and Mineralisation
The project is comprised of several significant deposits across the tenement holdings including Bald Hill, Frasers, Yangibana West, Yangibana and Auer deposits.
It covers a majority of the Gifford Creek Ferrocarbonatite Suite (GCFS) located within the Gascoyne Province of the Capricorn Orogen.
The GCFS within the project area has extensive presence of ironstone dykes that are associated with the ferrocarbonatite intrusions. The ironstones of the GCFS have been the focus of exploration activity due to enrichment in Rare Earths Elements (REE).
The rare earths mineralisation at the project is hosted by phosphate mineral monazite. Initial petrological assessment of mineralised carbonatite samples from Yangibana North deposit were identified as being the Ce-rich end-member, Ce-monazite.
Further procurement of data indicated that there are significant variations in the Nd content in different prospects.
The Eastern Belt of mineralisation prospects (Bald Hill, Fraser’s, Auer, and Auer North) have higher Nd content than prospects within the Western Belt of mineralisation (Yangibana West to Kane’s Gossan).
This indicates that the Eastern belt is Nd-monazite dominated, while the Western belt is Ce-monazite dominated.
In February 2023, Hastings Technology Metals increased the ore reserve estimate at its Yangibana Rare Earths Project by 25%.
Total Proved and Probable Ore Reserves were increased to 20.93 million tonnes (Mt), from 16.7Mt, at 0.90% Total Rare Earth Oxide (TREO). This includes a 37% component of Nd2O3+Pr6O11 (NdPr).
The latest estimate is based on drilling, assaying and optimisation work from the 2021-2022 exploration programme, as well as the acquisition of Yangibana stake from Cadence Minerals.
Mining and Ore Processing
The Yangibana rare earth project will employ conventional drill and blasting methods for mining.
Primarily, the mine features three types of rocks which include the upper horizon of saprolite that will not require blasting.
Hastings Technology will use blasting for the lower weathered and fresh granite horizons and RC grade control drilling for Ironstone (not all of which is ore).
The rare earth ore will be mined, crushed, concentrated and will be sent to Onslow hydrometallurgical plant for further processing into a Mixed Rare Earth Carbonate (MREC) before being shipped to global customers.
The MREC will contain high levels of neodymium and praseodymium concentrate (NdPr).
In October 2021, the Federal Government’s Department of Agriculture, Water and the Environment (DAWE) granted environmental approval for the hydrometallurgical plant, that will be located at the Ashburton North Strategic Industrial Area (ANSIA).
The Onslow Plant will have a production capacity of around 15,000 tonnes of MREC annually, containing 3,400 tonnes of neodymium and praseodymium.
The mine will also include groundwater abstraction, on-site processing plant for the ore tailings storage facilities, and supporting infrastructure.
The project is expected to deliver around A$1.3bn in net public benefit to the Gascoyne region, as well as support around 700 jobs during construction and operations.
Key Contractors involved
Mount Magnet Drilling was contracted by Hasting Technology to perform the reverse circulation and diamond drilling activities during the Yangibana project PFS stage.
Hastings completed a Definitive Feasibility Study (DFS) for the Yangibana Project in the fourth quarter of 2017. Independent consultants Wave International supported the company to deliver the DFS.
Several other consultants such as Southern Geoscience, Snowden Mining Industry Consultants, ATC Williams, Tetra Tech Proteus, Enperitus Radpro, JHI, Bennelongia, Ecoscape and Qube Logistics among others were also involved.
DRA Global was awarded the Front-End Engineering Design (FEED) contract for the Yangibana Rare Earths Project.
The updated ore reserve estimate was completed by independent consultant Intermine Engineering Consultants (Intermine).
In October 2022, Solvay and Hastings Technology Metals signed a non-binding offtake memorandum of understanding (MoU) to enter into a potential binding commercial MREC offtake agreement.
Under the agreement, Hastings will deliver 2,500 tonnes per annum of MREC from Yangibana rare earth project to Solvay’s plant in La Rochelle, France.
In April 2021, ThyssenKrupp Materials Trading signed an offtake agreement with Hastings Technology Metals for exclusive marketing rights to up to 70,000 metric tonnes of rare earth carbonate for ten years from the Yangibana project.
During the initial first five years, Hastings will supply around 9,000 metric tonnes of rare earth carbonate annually to ThyssenKrupp Materials Trading, and around 5,000 metric tonnes per year for the remaining five years of the contract term.
In June 2020, Hastings entered into a binding master agreement (MA) with Schaeffler Technologies MREC supplies over a period of ten years.