Australia’s Lynas Rare Earths is planning to invest A$500m ($345.40m) to expand capacity at the Mt Weld mine and concentration plant in Western Australia.

Said to be one of the world’s highest grade rare earth deposits, Mt Weld hosts the undeveloped Duncan (rare earths); Crown (niobium, tantalum, titanium, rare earths, and zirconium); and Swan (phosphate) deposits.

Lynas intends to raise its previously announced 2025 growth strategy of a 50% increase in neodymium praseodymium (NdPr) production to 10,500tpa by 2025.

The investment is required to help meet the anticipated increase in market demand for rare-earths materials driven by a surge in electric vehicles and wind energy, the firm said.

With the initial A$500m investment, the firm expects to increase the Mt Weld mine’s feedstock production capacity of NdPr to 12,000tpa.

Subject to regulatory and stakeholder approval, Lynas plans to start expansion work in early next year, with full operation scheduled for 2024.

The Mt Weld expansion project will include upscaled processing equipment, enhanced sustainability, and efficiency upgrades.

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.”

Besides, Lynas plans to undertake further sustainability and circular economy activities at Mt Weld.

These include a transition from diesel-fuelled power generation to gas and then hybrid renewable power generation and rehabilitating larger mine and waste rock landforms, among others.

In June, the US Department of Defense selected Lynas Rare Earths for building a commercial heavy rare earths (HRE) separation facility in Texas, US.