Yangibana Rare Earth Project, Gascoyne Region, Australia

Western Australia

The Yangibana Rare Earth Project, integrating nine mining licences (MLs), is located in Wanna Station, approximately 270km east-northeast of Carnarvon, in the Gascoyne region of Western Australia.

Six of the MLs, covering an area of 16.6km², are 100% owned by Hastings Technology Metals, while the remaining three MLs, covering an area of 31.2km², are held by the joint venture of Hastings (70%) and Rare Earth Minerals (REM-30%).

The scoping study for the project was completed in November 2015, the financial analysis for the prefeasibility study (PFS) was completed in April 2016, while the full report of the PFS is expected in May 2016.

The final investment decision for the project, followed by the start of construction works, is expected in late-2016, while production is anticipated to be started in early-2018. The mine is estimated to have a life span of seven years.

The overall investment to bring the rare earth project into production is estimated to be between A$390m ($294m) and A$420m ($317m).

Yangibana Rare Earth Project geology and mineralisation

The project area primarily consists of granites of the Durlacher Supersuite, with rafts of older sedimentary rocks found within these intrusives. The monazite mineralisation at the site is primarily hosted in narrow and outcropping ironstone dykes.

The ironstones form part of an extensive rare earth element (REE)-mineralised system associated with the Gifford Creek Carbonatite Complex. The project will involve the development of the Bald Hill South, Fraser's, and Yangibana West / North deposits.

Reserves at the Western Australian rare earth project

As of October 2015, the project was estimated to hold combined indicated and inferred resources of 12.36 million tonnes (Mt) grading 1.10% total rare earth oxides (TREO), containing 2,750 parts per million (ppm) of neodymium oxide (Nd2O3), 726ppm of praseodymium oxide (Pr2O3), 48ppm of dysprosium oxide (Dy2O3), and 75ppm of europeam oxide (Eu2O3).

Mining and processing for Hastings Technology Metals' rare earth project

The mining method envisaged for the project is the open-pit mining method integrating standard drill and blast, and truck and shovel operations, performed by a mining contractor.

The processing facilities proposed include a beneficiation plant integrating a crushing and milling circuit, and a flotation circuit, a hydrometallurgical plant integrating acid bake, water leach, impurity removal and rare earth precipitation facilities.

The double sulphate concentrates recovered from the hydrometallurgical process will be exported to contracted refiners, to be further separated and refined into individual rare earths oxides. Hastings Technology Metals is currently negotiating off-take contract agreements with potential customers in Vietnam, China, Japan and Europe.

Infrastructure for the Wanna Station rare earth mine

The electricity required for the project will be generated by diesel-powered generators, or solar panels, whereas the required water will be sourced from borewells at the site.

"The overall investment to bring the rare earth project into production is estimated to be between A$390m ($294m) and A$420m ($317m."

Other major infrastructure at the site will include a tailings storage facility (TSF) with a designed life of ten years, access roads, fresh water storage ponds, temporary concentrate storage facilities, an accommodation camp, and airstrips.

Key players involved

The scoping study for the project was compiled by Snowden Mining, with inputs from the consultants, who are involved in compiling the PFS.

The consultants involved in compiling the PFS are Tetra Tech Proteus (TTP) as the lead consultant, Snowden Mining for the mining studies and resource review studies, and Core Process Engineering for the process design, hydrometallurgical and separation test work.

ATC Williams is also involved in conducting the water management, waste rock and tailings studies, Ecoscape is conducting the environmental approvals and permitting studies, Radiation Professionals is conducting the radiation management studies, and Austwide Mining is conducting the heritage protection and native title studies.

Mount Magnet Drilling has been contracted to perform the reverse circulation and diamond drilling activities during the PFS stage.