New facility to bring rare earths value-adding on-shore

Photo: Lynas Corporation

A facility to separate the rare earths extracted from the Mt Weld mine, which are essential for wind turbines and electric vehicles, will soon be built.

The Mt Weld mine in Kalgoorlie, Western Australia, is one of the largest producers of rare earths in the world, but the material extracted from the site is currently processed overseas.

“This new facility will bring that value-adding back to Australia so we can draw more value from our mineral resources,” the federal Minister for Industry, Science and Technology, Karen Andrews, said.

“Modern technology runs on rare earths and other critical minerals and there is insatiable global demand for these resources. With Australia’s rich deposits and unmatched mining expertise, we are well placed to play a dominant role in global rare earth trade.”

According to Minister for Resources and Northern Australia, Matt Canavan, demand for rare earths is increasing across the globe.

“Australia is seizing the opportunities to be a powerhouse for critical mineral and rare earth production,” Canavan said.

“There are so many everyday applications of rare earth elements, including in electric vehicles, renewable energy and smart phones.”

The Mt Weld Rare Earths Processing Facility has been awarded Major Project Status by the federal government, which constitutes formal recognition of the strategic significance of a project to Australia. The status provides companies with extra support from the Major Projects Facilitation Agency, including project support and coordination, and help with state and territory approvals.

“Granting Major Project Status demonstrates the Government’s support to forward-thinking companies that have vision to expand, maximise the value of our resources industry and take on international market opportunities.”

The Mt Weld separation plant is due to be fully operational by mid-2023.