Located 160km south east of Halls Creek in northern Western Australia, the Browns Range Project (the Project) is positioned to become the first significant dysprosium producer outside of China.
Following a review in 2016, Northern Minerals developed a new business plan (ASX announcement 4 February 2016) to support the Project’s pathway to production. The plan separates the Project into three development stages and allows Northern Minerals to test the process and market the mixed RE carbonate product, then develop the Project to bankable feasibility study (BFS) level and finally build the full scale operation.
Stage one includes the construction of a three year, 60,000tpa pilot plant operation at Browns Range. It will consist of an open cut mining operation, with processing via a beneficiation and hydrometallurgical pilot plant to produce 49,000kg dysprosium, in 590,000kg TREO contained in a mixed RE carbonate per annum. This stage is important to de-risk the operation by testing the process, and improving knowledge of grade control and the Project’s geology.
Northern Minerals is working with government regulators in relation to utilising existing project approvals, in conjunction with any additional approvals required, to execute stage one. Construction of stage one is expected to take around nine months once product offtake and funding is in place.
Stage two involves developing the Project to BFS level based on the Definitive Feasibility Study (DFS) completed in March 2015 and the results of the studies, announced 27 August 2015, aimed at reducing mining costs, boosting production, producing a premium product and increasing the Ore Reserve.
The final stage involves building the Project to full scale production based on the successful outcomes of stage one and two. Once at full scale the Project will process 585,000tpa to produce 279,000kg of dysprosium, contained within 3,098,000kg TREO per annum (prior to yttrium rejection), in a mixed RE carbonate.
The below diagram illustrates the location and size of the mining operation and infrastructure to support stage one, in comparison to the full scale operation.