Lynas Corp., the largest rare earth metals producer outside of China, said no thank you to an unsolicited bid of A$1.5 billion from Wesfarmers this week. The board said it had evaluated the A$2.25/share proposal and thought it undervalued the company. The company operates the Mount Weld Mine in Western Australia, which ships concentrate to Lynas’s processing facility in Malaysia.
The company has been producing a record amount of rare earth oxides (REOs) and exporting them to Japan, South Korea and North America. In FY2018, Lynas sold 17,672 metric tons (mt) of REOs, which generated A$383 million, a considerable increase from 14,616 mt REOs and A$260.4 million in FY2017.
The Mount Weld Central Lanthanide Deposit (CLD) is one of the richest rare earth deposits in the world. Mount Weld also hosts several undeveloped deposits. Lynas processes the CLD ore at the Mount Weld concentration plant to produce a rare earth concentrate that is sent for further refining at the Lynas Advanced Material Plant (LAMP) near Kuantan, Malaysia. LAMP faces possible closure in September if Lynas cannot reach an agreement with the government regarding a permanent disposal facility at the Malaysian site. The company believes it will find a solution.
Commissioned in mid-2011, the Mount Weld Concentrator is a flotation plant designed to process 240,000 mt per year (mt/y) of ore to produce up to 66,000 mt/y of concentrate containing 26,500 mt of REO. The LAMP has been designed and built in two phases, with full Phase 2 capacity capable of producing up to 22,000 mt/y of separated REO products. Commissioning of the LAMP started in late 2012. Currently, the most valuable product produced at the LAMP is praseodymium/neodymium (NdPr). LAMP has been operating at approximately 75% of its NdPr production capacity since 2015 with three out of four solvent-extraction trains in operation.