Arafura Resources Limited has been awarded grant funding of $30m under the Federal Government’s Modern Manufacturing Initiative (MMI) which will contribute to the construction of an $90.8m rare earth separation plant at its Nolans Project in the Northern Territory of Australia.
The $1.3b MMI forms part of the Resources Technology and Critical Minerals Processing Roadmap that aims to develop Australia as a regional resources technology and critical minerals processing hub within 10 years. The MMI continues to build on broad Australian, Territory and export partner government support for Nolans.
The grant awarded to Arafura falls under the MMI’s Collaboration Stream, which provides funding to a small number of transformational projects that will create and facilitate collaborative ecosystems. Nolans, 135 kilometres north of Alice Springs, is Australia’s only shovel-ready NeodymiumPraseodymium (NdPr) project. It is a globally significant development with potential to supply around 5 per cent of world NdPr oxide demand, with an ore to oxide business model that will see
downstream processing established locally and enable Australia to play a leading role in the diversification of critical raw materials.
The Nolans separation plant will be the first of its kind in Australia and the second outside China, producing separated rare earth oxides and enabling the development of diversified rare earth supply chains. Rare earth separation technology does not currently exist in Australia, and Nolans presents an opportunity to develop a higher value product that leverages Australian mineral processing expertise. Following construction of the separation plant, there is the potential for hub processing opportunities to be developed for the processing of other rare earth-rich feedstock, enabling the benefits of infrastructure investment and local jobs to be further dispersed.
“This grant is an exciting milestone for Arafura, recognising the strategic significance of the Nolans Project and its place in the future of critical minerals processing in Australia,” Arafura Managing Director Gavin Lockyer said. “Rare earths are critical to the manufacture of electric vehicles and wind turbines, with demand growth forecast to be exponential in coming decades. Australia has a window of opportunity to invest in strategically important rare earths projects such as Nolans and maximise the local jobs and investment benefits of the clean energy revolution”.