The Northern Territory Government has today offered the grant of mineral leases to Australian company Arafura Rare Earths Pty Ltd, paving the way for its proposed Nolans rare earths mine and processing plant in Central Australia.
Located 135 kilometres north of Alice Springs, the Nolans Project will produce Neodymium and Praseodymium (NdPr) which is in high demand for environmentally friendly, high tech applications such as magnets for electric vehicles, mobile phones, wind turbines and medical equipment. Nolans is one of the world’s largest and most intensively explored NdPr deposits of its kind with the potential to produce around 10 per cent of global demand for NdPr magnet feed and plans to mine over 1 million tonnes of ore per year.
This latest regulatory milestone follows the project being awarded Major Project status by the Territory Government, and agreement with Anmatyerr Native Title Holders to provide access for the project in June this year.
The project has an initial operational life of 33 to 39 years and will deliver significant economic and employment opportunities for Central Australia, and secondary economic development through enhanced logistics capacity in Alice Springs. It is estimated that up to 650 jobs will be created during the construction phase over a 30 month period and 280 jobs during the operational phase. These same opportunities will be extended to the Anmatyerr people with Native Title rights to the land near Aileron, through jobs, training and economic development pathways.
Arafura Resources will now be required to lodge a Mining Management Plan with the Department of Primary Industry and Resources (DPIR) and hold a valid authorisation under the Mining Management Act 2001 before any ground activity can commence. Once authorisation under the Mining Management Act 2001 is obtained and a mining management plan approved, construction and mine development activities can commence. Arafura Resources hopes to start work on construction at the site in 2021.
As noted by the Minister for Primary Industry and Resources, Paul Kirby:
“The Territory Labor Government’s number one priority is jobs for Territorians, especially in regional and remote areas like Central Australia.”
“The Territory mining industry is already the largest source of revenue to the Territory economy, but the potential for growth in the sector is well known and is being realised.
“The Nolans rare earth project has the potential to make the NT a major global producer of critical materials in revolutionary, eco-friendly tech components and products.
As noted by Managing Director, Arafura Resources Limited, Gavin Lockyer:
“This significant milestone brings us one step closer to a final investment decision at a time when critical minerals, such as rare earths, are in growing demand around the world.
“The Native Title Agreement and granting of the mineral leases will provide investors with a major confidence boost that the project is ready to proceed, subject to finance.
“We will soon lodge a Mining Management Plan which outlies how we will operate and ultimately close the project, and comply with mining regulations”