Rare earth minerals to be processed in Kalgoorlie, WA

A processing plant for rare earth minerals will be built near Kalgoorlie, in Western Australia.

Lynas Corporation will build the site, subject to approval processes, and forecasts that 500 construction jobs and 200 ongoing jobs in the region will be created through the project.

Minerals will be extracted from Lynas’s Mt Weld mine, which are part of the state’s 29,000 tonnes of rare earths mined in 2018-2019. The WA government values the worth of the materials at $355 million.

WA Premier, Mark McGowan, highlighted the economic value local processing could have

“This investment in infrastructure, the local workforce and research, is a key example of how the WA Government is working with industry to diversify the economy and deliver jobs of the future,” he said.

Increasing demand for rare earths, used in the manufacture of batteries and electronic devices is seeing the industry grow. However, Australia has largely limited processing facilities for rare earths, with the minerals being shipped offshore for processing. The local processing of these minerals could make Australian battery manufacturing, as well as high value electronics manufacturing, more competitive, highlighted WA Minister for Mining and Petroleum, Bill Johnston.

“The McGowan Government’s Future Battery Industry Strategy is focused on positioning Western Australia at the centre of the global battery supply chain, including supplying battery materials and critical minerals,” he said.

If this processing plant, and others like it provide an economic incentive for manufacturing with the rare earth minerals, new manufacturing sectors could open up.

“Downstream processing is a key plank of the Strategy, which actively supports investment that enables raw minerals to be processed into more valuable products, creating jobs and diversifying the economy,” said Johnston.

The Mt Weld Central Lanthanide Deposit is one of the highest quality deposits of rare earths globally.