Arafura Resources Ltd (ASX:ARU) has entered into a strategic relationship with USA Rare Earth LLC to treat Arafura’s middle-heavy rare earths (SEG-HRE) carbonate product using USA Rare Earth’s proprietary processing technology.
Arafura’s advanced engagement with potential customers across the world necessitates, in some cases, providing samples of its final rare earth product offering from Nolans – specifically NdPr oxide (4,357 tonnes per annum) and SEG-HRE carbonate (603 tonnes per annum) – for qualification purposes.
Accordingly, piloting of the Nolans rare earth separation flowsheet is in full swing using rare earth chloride solution feedstock generated by Arafura’s rare earth processing pilot plants.
This work is being undertaken at ANSTO Minerals in Sydney, an organisation recognised globally as a leader in process development and piloting of rare earths and other critical minerals.
Operation of the first of two solvent extraction (SX) circuits is now complete.
This produced refined SEG-HRE liquor that contains the middle and heavy rare earths including samarium, terbium and dysprosium.
The second SX circuit is scheduled to run in January 2020 to separate the company’s key NdPr oxide product.
Arafura’s new strategic relationship with USA Rare Earth LLC will allow for the treatment of the SEG-HRE carbonate product by USA Rare Earth’s proprietary processing technology.
Unique market opportunity
USA Rare Earth and its JV partner Texas Mineral Resources Corp (OTCMKTS:TMRC) submitted a tender for the U.S. Department of Defense (DoD) Cornerstone Initiative for Heavy Rare Earth Element Separation, the objective of which is to establish a commercially sustainable U.S. domestic capability for the separation of heavy rare earths in support of DoD and essential civilian products.
This market opportunity is unique and at the early stage of development, but it demonstrates the importance of being able to produce separated rare earth products to meet supply chain opportunities that are evolving outside of and independent of the Made In China 2025 strategy.