Iluka resources steps up rare earths diversification plans

25 May, 2021

The Australian government has endorsed Iluka resources to commence a feasibility study into a rare earths refinery. The refinery is located at the Eneabba operation in Western Australia.

Stress was put on the study’s alignment with the government’s critical minerals strategy. This was highlighted in a letter from the Minister for Trade, Tourism and Investment Dan Tehan, and the Minister for Resources, Water and Northern Australia Keith Pitt. 

“We welcome Iluka’s revised proposal to develop an integrated rare earth oxide production facility in Eneabba,” the letter stated.

“We look forward to the outcome of Iluka resources feasibility study and the independent due diligence process. The Morrison Government is focused on growing Australia’s critical minerals sector capturing more value from our resources by moving into downstream processing and diversifying global supply chains.”

A recent $20 million investment in a Global Resources Strategy was made by the government. This budget allocation underlined the governments intent to diversify supply chains. 

“The Eneabba refinery represents an exciting opportunity for the company, consistent with our longstanding plans to diversify into rare earths,” O’Leary said.

“It is not an opportunity without risk, nor one we will pursue at any cost, particularly given the projected returns from our phase two monazite business.”

The EFA and Critical Minerals Facilitation Office (CMFO) have acknowledged the positive alignment of the project with government priorities. Iluka has also continued discussions with Export Finance Australia (EFA) to organise substantial financial support for the refinery project. 

“The government will continue to work with proponents of critical minerals and rare earths projects, including those that could supply concentrates to the Eneabba refinery, to consider options for support,” the letter stated.

“We encourage you to continue engaging with EFA and the CMFO to progress your project.

This article is an edit from Australian Mining.