A prospective rare earth mine which is thought to have the potential to supply up to 10% of world demand for neodymium and praseodymium has been approved by Australia’s Northern Territory Environmental Protection Authority (EPA), reports Mining Global. Arafura Resources received the approval in early January 2018, following an assessment process of over two years.
The mine, located at Nolans Bore, Australia, is expected to have an operating life of 30-35 years, during which Arafura states that it will mine up to 5 million tonnes annually, producing 650,000 tonnes of run-of-mine (ROM) ore.
Among other products, this ore will be used to produce NdPr oxide at a planned rate of roughly 3,600 tonnes per year beginning in 2020. Neodymium and praseodymium are used in the manufacture of high-performance permanent magnets, which as well as being a key enabler of hybrid and electric vehicles are used extensively in the automotive industry to produce electric components such as seats, mirrors, wipers, steering and braking.
According to Arafura, the rare earths-phosphate deposit set to be mined is “one of the largest and most intensively explored deposits of its kind in the world,” and contains 56 million tonnes of JORC-compliant mineral resources extending 215 metres below the surface.