Australian Strategic Materials is pressing ahead with its Dubbo, NSW rare earths project with ambitious plans to value-add the strategically important materials in Australia.
The company, a subsidiary of listed miner Alkane Resources, is developing the Dubbo deposit containing zirconium, rare earths, niobium and halfnium.
These are minerals critical to advanced industries with more than 70 per cent currently sourced from China.
ASM told investors it had been awarded US$4.5 million in grants from the South Korean government Industrial Technological Program to develop its low emission high purity metal refining technology.
ASM and its Korean JV partner, Zirconium Technology Corporation (ZironTech) are close to commissioning of a pilot plant facility in South Korea utilising ASM’s propriety refining technologies.
The technology has been extensively pilot tested at the Australian Nuclear Science and Technology’s Lucas Heights facility over the past 10 years.
While South Korea envisages a domestic production capacity for these materials, used to produce such things as computer memories and permanent magnets, David Woodall, Managing Director at Australian Strategic Materials, is championing similar downstream processing in Australia based on his already-approved Dubbo mine.
He said: “Investment in domestic supply chains stemming from these critical materials – from on-shore processing of the raw minerals to advanced manufacturing of diverse end-products – will ensure long-term prosperity for Australia and increase global security by enhancing supply diversity.”
Woodall said it would be smart to create an Australian domestic supply chain that extracts rare earths and turns them into permanent magnets and then electric motors.
“There are many other products for which we also could build domestic manufacturing capability.
“Parallel development of clean and efficient manufacturing technologies and practices should also be prioritised to reduce harmful greenhouse gases.
“By combining value-addition, innovation and sustainability on-shore, Australia can redefine ‘smart’ manufacturing.”
Picture: Alkane Resources
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