Arafura Resources Ltd is proposing to develop the Nolans Rare Earths project (the Project), which will encompass a mine, beneficiation plant, extraction plant, separation plant, sulphuric acid plant and related non-process infrastructure, to be constructed in the Northern Territory. The project site is located on Aileron Station, approximately 135 kilometres NW of Alice Springs.
The Project mining operation will use conventional open-pit truck and excavator mining methods, supplemented by drill and blasting for ore and waste. A JORC-compliant Ore Reserve supports an initial mine life of 38 years, with mining and processing of all known mineral resources extending the project’s operational life to beyond 45 years. Ore Reserves are based on an average mining rate of 7.6 million tonnes per annum to produce 1 to 1.3 million tonnes of ROM ore each year and 316,000 tpa of concentrate through the hydrometallurgical plant to produce a range of rare earth products and a phosphoric acid by-product.
The Project is well developed, and in August 2021 it entered its next phase with the award of an EP (Engineering and Procurement) contract to Hatch. This award will see front end engineering design (FEED) works for the hydrometallurgical plant completed over the next nine months. The result of this work will be a fixed price Engineering, Procurement and Construction (EPC) construction contract for the hydrometallurgical plant which will be tendered. The final tenderer price will assist the Company in making a Final Investment Decision in the second half of 2022.
In parallel to these FEED works Arafura will continue to:
▪ Scope the Beneficiation Plant and Sulphuric Acid Plant which will be tendered as fixed price Engineering, Procurement and Construction (EPC) contracts concurrently with the hydrometallurgical plant EPC tender.
▪ Develop the process control system for the project process plant (benefication plant, hydrometallurgy and sulphuric acid plant).
▪ Ensure all early works construction is ready for tendering concurrently with the hydrometallurgical plant EPC tender. Early works packages include but are not limited to communications, borefield development, bulk earthworks (including access roads), village installation, and fuel storage and distribution infrastructure.
▪ Develop service contracts to enable establishment of Build Own Operate (BOO) power station, concrete batch plant, waste management and wastewater systems, village operator/operations etc.
▪ Develop other main non-process infrastructure (NPI) construction contracts to support the construction of the Project.
Early works are forecast for commencement Q3 2022, with construction to be complete by the end of 2024.