Another project upgrading to a mixed rare earth compounds product

Another project upgrading to a mixed rare earth compounds product

RareX announced simplifications to its scoping study together with its latest drilling results from its 100%-owned Cummins Range project, indicating plans to release an updated resource estimate in Q1 2023.

Blue View

Following on from the company’s scoping study, the update focuses on combining monazite and apatite in a mixed flotation product. This concentrate is then bound to be trucked to Windham Port in the northeastern corner of Western Australia, where the concentrate will be processed into phosphoric acid and a mixed rare earth carbonate (MREC). In addition, the scoping study tentatively outlined the potential to produce a phosphate rock concentrate, which could later be used to make fertilizers and other phosphate end-products.

According to Project Blue data, less than one-third of rare earth mineral concentrates mined outside of China and Myanmar are refined further to MREC, and slightly more than a quarter are separated into their elemental constituents. The rest is sent to China and enters the Chinese supply chain as an addition to its annual quotas.

With geopolitical interest in rare earths and energy transition rising, refining minerals concentrates into separated rare earths is expected to ramp up, potentially accounting for nearly 50% of mined rare earth minerals outside China and Myanmar by the end of the 2020s. Some of the advanced refinery projects are, however, reliant on imported feed and will have to compete with China’s hunger for rare earths (in any form) underpinned by a consumer market 2 decades ahead of the rest.

Shipping of monazite concentrates is under scrutiny and red tape regulations because of its radioactive thorium content. Producing monazite into a MREC circumvents this issue (though with added local radioactive waste storage requirements) and the hope of projects is to increase the payability of contained rare earths – in many cases skewed by stripping out low-value cerium.

  • 01 Dec 2022
  • Australia
  • Light rare earths
  • Heavy rare earths
  • REE magnets

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