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USA partnership to boost Donald project

A joint venture agreement between Astron and a USA-based critical minerals company will result in a significant boost to the Donald Rare Earths and Mineral Sands Project.

Energy Fuels will invest $183 million to earn a 49 percent interest in the project, while Astron, with 51 percent, will continue to manage the project.

The Donald deposit is contained within mining licence MIN5532 and retention licence RL2002, located between Donald and Minyip.

The agreement also means Energy Fuels will enter into an offtake agreement for all of the Donald project’s phase one and phase two rare earth element concentrate, REEC, production at commercial prices.

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The REEC will be processed into rare earth oxides at Energy Fuels’ White Mesa Mill in Utah, USA – the only commercial rare earth processing facility in North America capable of producing advanced rare earth products. But Astron will retain the right to contract up to 100 percent of the joint venture’s phase one and phase two heavy minerals concentrate production for its Yingkou Mineral Separation Plant in China.

Astron managing director Tiger Brown said the joint venture agreement underpinned development of the Donald project as a major new long-life source of critical minerals, establishing a western rare earth value chain aligned with the Federal Government’s critical minerals strategy.

“The execution of this agreement represents a transformational moment in our company’s history,” he said.

“In Energy Fuels, we have found a partner that shares our values, our goals and focus, one that strongly complements our mineral sands experience and aspirations with their own rare earth experience and strategy.

“We look forward to a long and productive relationship with our new partner to collectively bring to life what, in Donald, is one of the world’s most significant critical mineral resources and delivering value to our respective securityholders and stakeholders.”

Energy Fuels president and chief executive Mark Chalmers said the company looked forward to making the ‘world-class’ rare earth and critical mineral deposit a reality.

“Our joint venture plans with Astron and the timing of the Donald project development could not be better and fits nicely with the sequencing of our ‘U.S. Critical Mineral Hub’ initiative, which includes advancing our rare earth element and heavy mineral sand production,” he said.

Mr Chalmers said Energy Fuels was currently completing the final commissioning of the phase one rare earth element, REE, separation circuit at its White Mesa Mill, which had a commercial processing capacity of up to 10,000 tonnes each year.

He said the Donald project phase one could provide up to 80 percent of the feed for the 2026-27 time period. Mr Chalmers said work was underway to increase the mill’s capacity in future years, which would ‘tie nicely into the timing of the planned development of phase two of the Donald project’.

“This means phase two of the Donald Project could provide up to 35 per-
cent of our planned increased REEC processing capacity at the mill, starting as early as 2029-2030,” he said.

“These milestones, if achieved, would make the venture world-significant by any standard.”

The entire June 5, 2024 edition of The Weekly Advertiser is available online. READ IT HERE!

The entire June 5, 2024 edition of The Weekly Advertiser is available online. READ IT HERE!