Hastings Rare Metals (ASX: HAS) is carrying out an investigation of a low cost production opportunity for its Hastings Heavy Rare Earths Project in Western Australia that could fast-track commercial production.
This involves an offshore location study as well as evaluating and securing toll treatment partnerships for ore milling; extraction and separation; and final product refining.
Taking these functions offshore will also de-risk the project by significantly reducing capital costs, allowing the company to access lower cost funding and reducing overall processing operating expenses.
“The decision by the Board to conduct an Asian location study comprising possible existing capacity, innovative lease financing for any new installation, optimum capital financing, combined with the concept of toll treatment, is a logical step to progress the project,” technical director Steve Mackowski said.
“The study would enable a comprehensive view of the spectrum of capital risk solutions, to determine better project economics.”
Developing a complete plant for Hastings at Hall Creek is considered the highest capital and operating expenditure option for developing the project given the difficult capital environment, Australia’s high construction costs, high project engineering costs, as well as fluctuations in the Australian dollar exchange rates,
Hastings Heavy Rare Earths
Hastings is a world class HREE project that is located within a favourable jurisdiction with excellent existing infrastructure and a current Resource of 36.2 million tonnes at 0.21% TREO and 0.18% HREO.
This is further differentiated from other projects by its predominantly heavy rare earths (85%) content, such as dysprosium and yttrium, which are substantially more valuable than the more common light rare earths.
It is the largest heavy rare earth project in Australia, and ranks fourth largest globally with resources for more than 25 years of production at over 1 million tonnes per annum to produce over 10,000 tonnes per annum.
Potential also exists for two new zones of near surface, high-grade mineralisation, located within 4.5 kilometres of the existing Resource, to further expand its potential.
The company had also in September formed an alliance with a strategic partner for staged funding of the project towards commercial production.
This alliance allows for both parties to undertake investigations and test works to develop a detailed plan to move the Hastings Project into production.
Notably, the partner has access to low cost capital and a deep technical understanding of the separation and refining process required for Heavy Rare Earths.
Its REE separation facility consistently achieves high purity, and high recovery rates for key elements including Dysprosium and Yttrium (purity up to 99.999%).
The strategic partner has an existing team of scientists and production staff with a world class capability in the Rare Earth Industry. The business specialises in the separation, refining and trading of REE with a focus on the more valuable heavy rare earths.
Proving up the viability of a low cost, offshore production opportunity for the Hastings Project will ease its pathway towards development.
That this option would also result in development being fast-tracked is also a positive, resulting in earlier cash flows for the company by meeting the strong global demand for heavy rare earths.
Coupled with its strategic investor, this option – if successful – could provide the key towards unlocking the value of the Hastings heavy rare earths resource.
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