Donald Rare Earth & Mineral Sands Project
Evaluation & De-Risking
The Donald Rare Earth and Minerals Sands Project has been subject to detailed evaluation over many years, and all main regulatory approvals have been achieved or are well advanced. Project evaluation and technical work has included the completion of mine planning, processing plant and infrastructure design, engineering design, product transportation, sales and marketing arrangements and environmental management, along with the grant of all major regulatory approvals, except for the project work plan. A 25 year mine plan has been developed, although the resource is likely to support a mine life of at least 58 years.
Evaluation work has included the operation of a purpose built pilot wet concentrator plant (WCP) to test heavy mineral concentrate (HMC) recoveries, and the recovery of two bulk samples of ore. Fine grained concentrates have undergone mineral processing at consultant facilities. From this test work, the efficient and commercial processing of ore has been achieved, with the production of:
- Rare Earth concentrate (REEC), consisting of monazite and xenotime minerals. The REEC is suitable as feedstock for rare earth cracking facilities that produce rare earth oxides to be used by metal and magnet manufacturers in the production of electric vehicles and wind turbines;
- Zircon, predominantly premium grade (suitable for end user markets including ceramics), as well as a standard or chemical grade (suitable for chemicals and zirconium metal); and
- Titania products (ilmenite, leucoxene and rutile), which in a combined product stream has an estimated 66% titanium dioxide content, suitable for use as feedstock in the chloride slagging processes. Globally, China is the major participant in slag production, where titanium dioxide is used for the manufacture of paints and other coating applications.
Project achievements and attributes include:
- Extensive Resource evaluation, including approximately 3,000 drill holes as well as bulk sampling and metallurgical evaluation. This provides a high level of confidence over Resource and Reserve characteristics. Ore Reserves and Mineral Resources are compliant with the 2012 JORC Code;
- Main regulatory approvals (excluding work plan) for Phase 1 mining and production;
- Community engagement and support;
- Long life, generational mine life, based on established approaches for mining and rehabilitation;
- Mining Location close to supporting infrastructure;
- Water secured in the form of a 6.975GL water entitlement purchased from Grampians Wimmera Mallee Water;
- Extensive metallurgical test work completed utilising a range of industry specialist consulting firms, at both bench scale and pilot scale. This provides confidence for commercial recovery of fine minerals; and
- Product samples progressively made available to key customers for product testing and market acceptance.
Donald Rare Earth and Minerals Sands Project is unique among potential Australian mineral sands projects in that its regulatory approvals are significantly advanced. The following key regulatory approvals are in place for Phase 1 of the project, and approvals will be sought for extension of the project into Phase 2.
Regulatory approval timeline
Mining licence granted (MIN5532)
Water rights purchased
Cultural & Heritage Management Plan approved
Radiation licence extended to 2023
Export Licence initially granted 2016
Work plan and secondary licences to be submitted, covering all aspects of Phase 1
Fine Minerals Processing
The processing of fine minerals represented a historical challenge for WIM style deposits. Based on significant R&D work conducted since 2005, Astron has developed the necessary process flows and equipment selection for the achievement of efficient commercial recoveries of HMC and final products. See Link for more information.
Based on significant R&D work conducted since 2005, Astron is confident it has developed the necessary process flows and equipment selection for the achievement of efficient commercial recoveries of HMC and final products. See Link for more information.