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Rare earths producer Hastings Technology Metals has received environmental approval for a proposed hydrometallurgical plant in the Gascoyne region, Western Australia.

The approval from the Australian Department of Agriculture, Water and the Environment (DAWE) allows the firm to start construction on the project.

The Onslow rare earths plant is planned to be built at the Ashburton Northern Strategic Industrial Area (ANSIA), around 15km south-west of the coastal town of Onslow.

It will be equipped to process rare earth oxide concentrate, which will be sourced from the company’s Yangibana project in Gascoyne.

The concentrate will be processed into mixed rare earth carbonate (MREC), which will contain high levels of neodymium and praseodymium concentrate.

Construction of the hydrometallurgical plant is scheduled to start in 2022 following the completion of early works at the Yangibana mine site.

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By GlobalData

The downstream rare earths processing plant is slated to commence production in early 2024.

Hastings Technology Metals executive chairman Charles Lew said: “This is a significant milestone for our Yangibana Rare Earths Project and further endorses Hastings’ decision last year to decouple the processing plant from the Yangibana mine site.

“The Commonwealth environmental approval will allow Hastings to construct the Onslow rare earths plant for a full production rate of 15,000t of MREC per annum, unlocking the high-quality and NdPr-rich rare earths carbonate that we will produce at Yangibana.

“Debt financing talks are advancing well and scheduled for conclusion before the end of this year and early-stage civil works at the Yangibana mine site are in progress.”