Monday 19th August 2019

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Northern Minerals shifts RE offtake from China to Germany; Malaysia’s Lynas decision imminent

by Greg Klein | August 12, 2019

A new Western Australia rare earths producer has signed an agreement with a German engineering group to take on 100% of production from the miner’s pilot plant. The deal replaces a previous 100% offtake contract with Chinese firm Lianyugang Zeyu New Materials Sales, which was cancelled last week due to breach of agreement, ASX-listed Northern Minerals announced on August 12.

Northern Minerals shifts REE offtake from China to Germany; Malaysia’s Lynas decision imminent

Browns Range production,
before and after pilot plant processing.

The agreement with thyssenkrupp Materials Trading, a company that claims to have 158,000 “colleagues” on all continents, allows the customer to buy all heavy rare earth carbonate from the Browns Range pilot plant. Future sales may involve separated heavy rare earths. The two companies will also work together on separating technology and potential expansion of the project, Northern Minerals stated. The offtake agreement includes all stockpiled product as well as future output. Production began in July 2018.

Currently in the first phase of a three-stage development plan, Northern Minerals plans to become the “first significant producer of dysprosium outside of China.”

The same day as the offtake announcement, the company reported its board is considering a $20-million investment offer from a Chinese entity. (All figures in Australian dollars.) Northern Minerals added it’s in negotiations with other potential investors. Having so far raised about $19.76 million of a previously offered $30-million private placement, the company expects to close the remainder by the end of August.

Meanwhile Australian RE producer Lynas Corp expects a decision any day now by the Malaysian government regarding the fate of the miner’s processing facility. Although the plant has operated since 2012, a new government demanded the company ensure all material sent to the country from the Mount Weld mine in Western Australia be rendered non-radioactive prior to shipment. The government also ordered the removal of radioactive tailings accumulated over seven years. Although the plant’s licence expires on September 2, Lynas officials repeatedly express confidence in the outcome.

The company added that Malaysian Prime Minister Mahathir Mohamad has said licence renewal would no longer require the removal of tailings. Nevertheless, Lynas plans to relocate its cracking and leaching operations to Western Australia by 2022.

Read more about Lynas Corp.

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