Lynas Rare Earths Ltd has been awarded a $20 million grant as part of the Australian Government’s Modern Manufacturing Initiative – Manufacturing Integration Stream. The company said the grant will contribute to the development of a new capability to process apatite-rich ores, the Apatite Leach Circuit, from the Mt Weld orebody, located near Laverton, Western Australia.

The process was developed in collaboration with the Australian Nuclear Science and Technology Organization (ANSTO) and Mt Weld Mining Pty Ltd, a Lynas subsidiary. The new circuits are expected to increase recoveries of praseodymium, neodymium and dysprosium.

“Lynas is delighted to receive this support from the Australian Government for the development of the Apatite Leach Circuit project at Mt Weld,” said Amanda Lacaze, Lynas Rare Earths CEO and managing director. “In addition to supporting the development of industry capability, the processing of apatite-rich ore will help to unlock additional value from the Mt Weld ore body with the goal of extending the operating life of both the mine at Mt Weld and the Lynas rare earths processing facility in Kalgoorlie.”

In related news, Lynas said final stage 4 commissioning had commenced on its new Kalgoorlie rare earths processing facility. Under the first three stages, key production equipment was prepared, tested and certified ready for production. Stage 4 commissioning involves the introduction of reagents and feedstock, including the first feed of lanthanide concentrate to the kiln and completing the heat up process cycle for the kiln.

During June chemical and wet circuits, including neutralization, filtration and carbonation circuits, were fed with rare earth carbonate from Lynas Malaysia which will allow completion of Stage 4 commissioning of those circuits. Major earthworks including ponds required for production and on-site services including power, water and laboratory facilities will be completed during this time and all materials (concentrate and chemicals) required for production will be received to on-site storage facilities.

Stage 4 commissioning was expected to be completed by the end of June, with the exception of two critical path items, the waste gas treatment plant and on site gas supply. Commissioning of other productive equipment will continue unimpeded while these two items are completed. The first production of Mixed Rare Earth Carbonate (MREC) from the Kalgoorlie Facility is now expected in August.