The commissioning process for the Browns Range Rare Earth project of Australia’s heavy rare earth producer Northern Minerals is progressing well, and all parts of the pilot plant at the concentrator and hydrometallurgical plant have been commissioned as part of the Northern Australia project.
“The development of the Browns Range project was exchanged for years of sweat and tears from Northern Mining Corporation, Sinosteel, construction engineering company Primero Group and other contractors,” said George Bower, General Manager and CEO of Northern Minerals. Bauk said that as the company turned from an explorer to a quality supplier of important raw materials to the development of electric vehicles, people’s perception of the northern mining industry is undergoing a fundamental change.
Last month, the company reported that about 1,000 tons of ore were crushed, and the first ore was processed by the concentrator and continued to be processed according to the production process. At the same time, the hydrometallurgical plant began commissioning and testing through the concentrate dryer and the sulphate roaster process. The balance of the hydrometallurgical plant will be adjusted with the availability of the calcined material.
The Northern Minerals report shows that the field laboratory has produced rare earth carbonates as part of the testing process during the commissioning process. This is the precursor to the export of quality products being produced.
The company is currently expected to export its rare earth carbonate products for the first time in the fourth quarter of September. The research and development phase of the pilot plant project began in June and is expected to take up to three years. During this time, the company will investigate the technical and economic feasibility of the proposed large-scale project.
In addition, the first phase of the test was carried out at two ore sorting suppliers, completing the conceptual design of the ore sorting at the Browns mine. A large number of samples from the Wolverine and Gambit West Mine have been collected, screened and separated to prepare for the next stage of the sorting test. Testing is expected to begin last month. The Browns Range project will be the first major plutonium producer outside of China, the company said.
After the 2016 review, Northern Mining has developed a new business plan to support the project’s entry into production. The program divides the project into three stages of development, allowing the company to test the processing and sales of hybrid rare earth carbonate products, and to develop the project to a feasibility study level, which will eventually be fully operational.
According to a report by Mining Weekly in May, the pilot plant is expected to produce 573,000 kilograms of mixed heavy rare earth carbonate containing lanthanum and cerium as a revenue product within three years.
Australian Regional Development, Agriculture and Food Minister Alannah MacTiernan officially announced the implementation of the Browns Range project last month.