Australian rare earths miner Lynas has signed a deal with the US government to construct a commercial light rare earths separation plant in the country.

The separation plant will be equipped to produce nearly 5,000 tonnes of rare earths products per year. This includes around 1,250 tonnes of neodymium and praseodymium (NdPr).

The facility will receive material directly from the cracking and leaching plant, which is currently underdeveloped phase by in Kalgoorlie, Western Australia.

The deal follows the signing of an agreement by Lynas with the US Department of Defense (DoD) in July 2020 to commence initial work on a heavy rare earth separation facility in Texas.

Sponsored by the Defense Production Act, the project will be executed in collaboration with the US Department of Defense.

Lynas plans to complete the light rare earths separation plant in accordance with the timetable of the DOD and as part of the company’s 2025 plan.

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By GlobalData

Although detailed costings for the separation facility is due to be finalised, the company expects to contribute $30m million under the agreement and anticipates nearly $30m funding from the Department of Defense.

If the contract moves to the next phase, the Texas facility will have the capacity to accommodate processing facilities of heavy and light rare earths.

The facilities will cater to the defence industrial base as well as the growing commercial market, which includes electric vehicles and green technologies being developed in the US and in the rest of the world.

Lynas CEO and managing director Amanda Lacaze said: “This agreement is consistent with the US Government’s commitment to rebuilding the domestic industrial base while working effectively with partner nations. The Texas plant will ensure the US has a secure domestic source of high quality separated Rare Earth materials.

“This secure supply will provide the essential foundation for the renewal of downstream speciality metal making and permanent magnet manufacturing in North America.”