Arafura Resources Limited (ASX:ARU) has updated the ore reserves for its 100% owned Nolans Neodymium-Praseodymium (NdPr) Project in the Northern Territory.
The ore reserves have increased by 54% to 29.5 million tonnes at 2.9% total rare earth oxides (TREO), 13% phosphorus pentoxide (P2O5) and 26.4% neodymium and praseodymium (NdPr) enrichment.
The increase now supports 33 years of production – an increase of 10 years on the definitive feasibility study base case.
Arafura managing director Gavin Lockyer said: “The increase in ore reserves and mining inventory attests to the long-term potential of the Nolans Project and when read in conjunction with the recently announced deep drilling results, reinforces its standing as a world class NdPr development opportunity.”
The ore reserves are based on the project’s measured and indicated mineral resources and on the pricing, processing and cost assumptions developed during the definitive feasibility study.
The new estimate was independently prepared by mining technical services provider Mining Plus and incorporates the updated geometallurgical model derived from the results of beneficiation variability test work on mineralised material types which included samples from the 2019 drilling program at Nolans Bore.
Mining Plus also prepared a production schedule based on the mining inventory of around 39.9 million tonnes grading 2.8% TREO and 12% P2O5.
Updated preliminary pit design with the ore reserves (red) and inferred mineral resources (yellow) included in the mining inventory
Scheduling of the mining inventory, with some minor changes to the design envelope of the process plant, provides far superior financial outcomes over those delivered in the DFS base case.
The mining inventory production schedule now supports production over 39 years of an average of approximately 4,325 tonnes per annum of NdPr oxide at an operating cost of less than US$24/kilogram of NdPr oxide (net of phosphoric acid by-product credit).
This operating cost estimate is based on the cost and pricing assumptions used in the DFS.
Lockyer said, “The reduction in operating costs cements Arafura as one of the lowest-cost NdPr producers in the world.
“I challenge anyone to find a better fully permitted, fully costed NdPr-focused project outside China.
“It meets all the criteria to be a long term, sustainable supplier of critical minerals into clean energy technologies, and will deliver intergenerational benefits in a part of Australia that is challenged by limited opportunities for genuine economic development.”
Project development, product offtake and financing activities are continuing for the Nolans Project, including:
- Finalising execution readiness and pre-front-end engineering and design (FEED) activities
- Tendering of the hydrometallurgical plant design and construction contract
- Engaging with potential NdPr product offtake partners in Japan, Europe, South Korea, the USA and China
- Engaging with the Australian Government’s Critical Minerals Facilitation Office, Northern Australia Infrastructure Facility (NAIF) and Export Finance Australia (EFA), and with export credit agencies (ECA) in jurisdictions where the company is targeting product offtake or capital equipment procurement opportunities, and
- Engaging with corporate and debt advisory groups.