- Northern Minerals (NTU) will partially restart operations at its Browns Range Heavy Rare Earths Pilot Plant Project in northern Western Australia
- This decision follows COVID-19 related restrictions being lifted in the Kimberley region
- Browns Range hosts dysprosium, a heavy rare earth which is used in the clean energy, military and technology sectors
- Initial operations will focus on test work at the pilot plant which is hoped to facilitate a bankable feasibility study
- Unfortunately, as operations are only partially restarting at this stage, some employees may face redundancy
- Company shares are up 8.33 per cent and are trading for two cents each
Northern Minerals (NTU) has chosen to partially restart operations at the Browns Range Heavy Rare Earths Pilot Plant Project in northern Western Australia.
The miner has also elected to recommence exploration across its tenements within the region.
This decision comes after biosecurity restrictions have been lifted in the Kimberley region as part of COVID-19. It was due to COVID-19 that Northern Minerals was forced to place its project on care-and-maintenance at the end of March.
Browns Range hosts several deposits that contain high-value dysprosium and other heavy rare earths. Dysprosium is essential when producing dysprosium neodymium-iron-boron magnets used in clean energy, military and high technology solutions.
Importantly, Northern Minerals is one of the few producers of dysprosium outside of China.
Initial operations will focus on test work in the beneficiation circuit at the pilot plant. This will be followed by tests in the hydrometallurgical circuit. The company will also install ore-sorting equipment at the front end of the pilot plant.
These initial activities will provide data for a potential bankable feasibility study of a full-scale commercial facility.
While the company is pleased operations can recommence, the partial restart has affected employees.
"We have taken the difficult decision to only partially restart the pilot plant at this stage, but believe it is the best immediate path forward in the project’s development," Executive Chairman Colin McCavana said.
"We will work closely and collaboratively with those members of the team impacted by this decision to redeploy them to other opportunities within the company, including within our exploration team, where it is possible to do so," he added.
Despite some facing redundancies, the partial return of operations will result in about three-quarters of Browns Range's workforce being re-mobilised later this month.
Northern Minerals has allocated a budget of between $4.5 million and $5 million for greenfields exploration, evaluation of previously identified mineralisation and to boost confidence in resources.
Company shares are up 8.33 per cent and are trading for two cents each at 12:29 pm AEST.