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Monday, Apr 15, 2024
Mugglehead Magazine
Alternative investment news based in Vancouver, B.C.

Rare Earths

Energy Fuels and Astron Corp to develop ‘world-class’ Australian rare earth deposit

The companies say the Donald rare earth and mineral sands project is ‘shovel-ready’

Energy Fuels and Astron Corp to jointly develop 'world-class' rare earth deposit in Australia
Photo via Energy Fuels

Energy Fuels Inc. (TSX: EFR) (NYSE American: UUUU) will collaborate with Astron Corp Ltd (ASX: ATR) to develop a promising rare earth deposit in Australia. Based in the United States, Energy Fuels aims to help reduce American reliance on China for the elements with the project’s supply.

The companies announced on Wednesday that they have established a non-binding memorandum of understanding. They will jointly develop the Donald rare earth and mineral sands project in the state of Victoria.

Energy Fuels anticipates fully negotiated terms before Mar. 1 next year. The company expects to produce 7,000 tonnes of rare earth-bearing monazite sand annually starting in 2026. It will eventually increase production two-fold.

The project is world-class and shovel-ready, according to Energy Fuels. The company aims to send large quantities of the monazite sand concentrate to its mill in Utah where it will be processed into rare earth oxides. Energy Fuels will extract uranium from the concentrates as well.

The Colorado-based company will invest approximately US$122 million in the project and will hold a 49 per cent stake while Australia’s Astron holds the majority. Energy Fuels aims to supply electric vehicle manufacturers with rare earths from the operation in the coming years.

The project will yield neodymium, terbium, praseodymium and dysprosium. Astron says the deposit also contains titanium minerals and zirconium, a metal known to be used in nuclear reactors and for aerospace applications.

“We are earning into an essentially ‘de-risked’ heavy mineral sand project with many years of detailed resource and project evaluation and all the main regulatory approvals in place or well-advanced,” Mark S. Chalmers, Energy Fuels CEO, said.

Energy Fuels and Astron Corp to jointly develop 'world-class' rare earth deposit in Australia

A recent ‘community reference group meeting’ at the Donald project, Wimmera region, Victoria, Australia. Photo via Astron Corporation

Read more: China implements ban on rare earth processing tech exports to maintain dominance

Read more: Ucore Rare Metals gets $4.3M grant to commercialize rare earth separation tech

Monazite sand is rich in rare earths

Energy Fuels says monazite sand contains superior quantities of rare earths needed for permanent magnets like neodymium in comparison to other minerals. China currently dominates the rare earth magnet market and recently banned the export of domestic technology used for extraction of the elements to maintain industry control.

The American uranium producer announced that it will commence production at three mines in Arizona and Utah earlier this month. It credits this decision to the high price of uranium and favourable market conditions.

In addition to its flagship Donald project, Astron is also focused on the Niafarang mining operation in Senegal.

 

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