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Rare earths


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2006 update

In February 2006, Lynas announced it would begin the mine with a 40 per cent stake by Rhodia (who has had a rare earth processing plant in WA) in China's Shandong province and for supply to Rhodia's factory in France which makes rare earths-based products for polishing, wafer manufacturing, medical imaging, fuel cells and catalytic converters. It is worth noting that the Chinese rare earth industry is run as a state monopoly and it contiributed to the price collapsein 2001 and much production capacity has been shut down following pollution of its rivers.

The project will cost $60million with Rhodia assumng 40 per cent of the 10 500 tonnes proposed to be produced.

The rare earths market worldwide is only about 90,000 tonnes a year and used in computer disk drives, electronics, vehicle pollution control, display screens and a range of chemical applications. An expected boom in hybrid cars is likely to boost demand projected by their Chairman to be 125 000 tonnes by 2010. 

Included in the nine rare earths are cerium, used in glass polishing and catalytic converters; neodymium, used in small motors and magnets; europium, which produces the colour red in television screens; and lanthanium, used in water treatment and rechargeable batteries.

NOTES requiring consolidation with developments

The rare earths market in 1998 estimated to be 70 000 tonnes with a value of US$650 million that is projected to increase to 100 000 tonnes by 2004 with value of US$1billion.

The Mt Weld deposit in Western Australia contains a 3km diameter volcanic plug containing 2Mt of rare earth oxides with an average grade of 20 per cent rare earth oxides. (China has deposits of 43Mt representing 50 per cent of world reserves but is not as rich as at Mt Weld that is claimed to be the highest grade.) Mt Weld also has niobium and tantalum. The Mt Weld deposit, near Laverton, has a resource of 1.695 million tons at an average grade of 19.6 per cent rare earth oxides with a 14 per cent cut-off.

October 2001 Lynas announced it purchased 100 per cent of the Mt Weld rare earth project from Anaconda Nickel including the primary Rare Earths tenement ML38/326 and a 50 per cent interest in the rare earths by products from other leases at Mt Weld held by Anaconda's subsidiary Anaconda Industries. Under the terms of the agreement, Lynas will pay A$1.25 million on its execution and $3.75 million to be paid on satisfaction of conditions subsequent in the sales agreement. (This was confirmed April 2002). As well, Lynas has agreed to place or acquire Anaconda Industries' holding of Lynas Corp shares for $1.27. Lynas aims to have 10 per cent of the world rare earth market underpinned by having the world's highest grade ore-body and a 15-year plus mine life mining 100,000 metric tonnes of ore by 2004 and selling 10,000 tonnes of rare earths oxides.

The gold producing company gains advantage by:

bulletPlacer's Granny Smith gold mine already dewatering the carbonatite orebody.
bulletMonazite beneficiation improvement technology   

Production anticipated to begin 2003 to produce 20 000 tonnes with 40 to 45% rare earths oxide using a modified phosphate flotation process. The concentrate will be processed at the Meenar industrial estate 20 km east of Northam (100km east of Perth). At Meenar, rare earths will be leached to produce cerium, neodymium and mixed rare earths that will be marketed as "Rare Earths Direct" generating sales of A$90m and profits of A$20m).

Anaconda Nickel's Anaconda Industries has rights to purchase tantalum and niobium. 

Note also Alkane Exploration's Toongi deposit in NSW.

By 2004 the JV aims to produce 8 per cent of world cerium.

 

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