Major boost for $1.1 billion mine
THE $1.1 billion rare earths project near Alice Springs has received another giant boost with an agreement being struck between the mine's proponents Arafura Resources and USA Rare Earth.
Under the terms of a Letter of Intent, Arafura Resources will send Heavy Rare Earth (HREE) concentrate from its Nolans mine project about 135km north northwest of Alice Springs, for processing at USA Rare Earth's Colorado pilot plant.
USA Rare Earth LLC is the funding and development partner of a heavy rare earth and critical minerals project with Texas Mineral Resources Corp.
Rare earths are used in everything from mobile phones and wind turbines through to electric cars, fighter jets and missile systems.
The Nolans project has Major Project Status from the Northern Territory and Australian Governments.
USA Rare Earth chief executive officer Pini Althaus said the collaboration with Arafura Resources is a an example of concrete steps demonstrating how the U.S. and Australia can address the need for a reliable rare earth supply chain independent of China.
He said USA Rare Earth and Arafura Resources have agreed in the Letter of Intent to execute a Definitive Agreement in the first quarter of next year.
Arafura Resources Managing Director Gavin Lockyer the company is excited to be playing its part in helping to establish a secure, long term supply of rare earths critical to the world.
"Arafura and the Australian Government, championed by the initiatives of Austrade, have combined to strengthen the working relationships with our US counterparts," he said.
"It's an exciting opportunity for Arafura to expand its customer potential and work with USA Rare Earth and our NTIB allies."
The signing of the Letter of Intent comes just a month after the signing of an agreement between Australia and the US governments cementing a strong relationship for developing critical minerals.
Australia and the United States formalised their partnership on developing both nations' critical mineral assets, with a project agreement signed by Geoscience Australia and the United States Geological Survey (USGS).
Minister for Resources and Northern Australia Matt Canavan said growing global demand for critical minerals means there is huge scope for Australia to develop secure and stable supply chains to meet the growing demand for critical minerals in key economies such as the US.
"The US has a need for critical minerals and Australia's abundant supplies makes us a reliable and secure international supplier of a wide range of those, including rare earth elements," he said.
The Federal Government plans to open a Critical Minerals Facilitation Office, aimed at helping miners secure investment, financing and market access for critical mineral projects.
The office will open at the start of next year and its main focus will be on rare earth projects.