Arafura's development of the Nolans Rare Earths (RE) Project will encompass a Mine, Beneficiation Plant, Extraction Plant, Separation Plant and related infrastructure to be constructed and located at the Nolans site in the Northern Territory. The Nolans site is located on Aileron Station, approximately 135 kilometres NW of Alice Springs.
The cornerstone of the Nolans project are 56 million tonnes of JORC-compliant Mineral Resources at surface and have been determined by drilling to extend to depths beyond 220 metres. Arafura holds secure mineral title over the entire project area.
The Nolans mining operation will use conventional open-pit truck and excavator mining methods, supplemented by drilling and blasting for ore and waste. JORC-compliant Ore Reserves support an initial mine life of 23 years, with mining and processing of all known resources extending the project’s operational life to beyond 45 years. Ore Reserves are based on an average mining rate of 7.6 million tonnes per annum to produce 896,000 tonnes of ROM ore each year.
The project’s process flowsheet has been developed by the Company from detailed, extensive and rigorous testing through a number of phases of laboratory, pilot plant and demonstration plant scales. Beneficiation will comprise crushing, grinding, and flotation to produce an average of 293,000 tonnes of blended mineral concentrate each year. Concentrate will be pumped to an adjacent Extraction Plant. REs will be extracted from the concentrate by chemical processing to produce a mixed RE intermediate product for refining at the adjacent Separation Plant. All waste rock, tailings, process residues and radionuclide retention will be confined to the Nolans site.
The Nolans mine site is located 10 kilometres west of the Stuart Highway, and 65 kilometres west of the Darwin-Adelaide railway. The Amadeus Basin to Darwin natural gas pipeline passes directly adjacent to the Extraction and Separation plants and within 5 kilometres of the mine. Access roads to and around the Nolans site have been positioned, site buildings have been specified, and a 300-person accommodation village has been designed. Raw and potable water sources adequate to service the life-of-operation have been identified SW and W of the Extraction Plant.
The infrastructure requirements for the Nolans project have been well defined through work undertaken to date on roads, buildings, communications, and power and water supply. A power plant will be co-located with the Extraction Plant and a conservative approach has been taken to power generation requirements.
The proximity of the project to Alice Springs provides an opportunity to base much of the project’s maintenance and operations infrastructure associated with its road transport operations in Alice Springs.
The Company expects around 196,000 tonnes per annum of in-bound raw materials to be delivered to the Nolans site, mostly as intermodal cargo. Most inbound reagents will be containerised. Inbound sulphur will be containerised in Darwin and delivered to an on-site sulphur burning acid plant that will produce sulphuric acid for the Extraction Plant. Hydrochloric acid will initially be shipped direct from suppliers or via Darwin in dedicated isotainers for on-forwarding to Nolans. Out-bound RE product cargos will use the backhaul capability of the road and rail capacity and the Port of Darwin infrastructure. They will be packed in drums and bulk bags and transported in standard shipping containers via Darwin and international shipping routes to customers.
Arafura is targeting 13,343 tonnes of total rare earth oxide (TREO) output each year through the sale from Nolans of two high-quality separated RE products (NdPr oxide – 4,357 tonnes per annum; SEG/HRE carbonate – 603 tonnes per annum) and a third, less refined RE product (cerium hydroxide – 8,383 tonnes per annum). Most of the revenue from the project will be generated by the former two RE products that feed the highest value segments of the market with the strongest demand outlook. NdPr oxide is in high demand from Japanese, Chinese, Korean and European metal, alloy and magnet producers for use in the automotive, clean energy, consumer electronics, military, robotics and healthcare sectors, and the Nolans project is strongly endowed in neodymium (Nd) and praseodymium (Pr) rare earths. NdPr oxide sales is anticipated to comprise more than 85% of the project’s projected revenue.
The Company will also produce 135,808 tonnes of merchant grade (54% P2O5) phosphoric acid at the Nolans site each year for direct sale into the Indian agricultural fertilizer market. This product will be loaded into isotainers and transported to the bulk liquid storage facility at Darwin Port for export.
The Nolans project secured all environmental approvals from the Northern Territory and Australian governments in 2017 and 2018, respectively.
Arafura’s evaluation of the Nolans project indicates that it is financially robust and that it should provide a strong return on investment.
For more detailed information on the Nolans project download the Definitive Feasibility Study Summary Report listed below or visit www.arultd.com.