Lynas begins work on Kalgoorlie rare earths plant

Rare earths producer Lynas Corp has ordered long lead time equipment for a new processing plant it is building at Kalgoorlie, a move forced on the company by troubles at its existing Malaysian processing plant.

The Perth company operates a mine and concentration plant at Mt Weld in Western Australia for Neodymium, Praseodymium, Lanthanum, Cerium and mixed Heavy Rare Earths, a technical office in Perth, and an advanced materials plant at Kuantan, Malaysia.

However the Malaysian plant has proved problematic, first falling foul of Malaysian environmental protests over the production of radioactive wastes.

Its woes were complicated by a wholesale shutdown of Malaysian industry with the plant restarting in May with a government imposed requirement to cease importing radioactive ores.

Now Lynas has awarded Metso Outotec a contract to supply a kiln for a new Kalgoorlie treatment plant after a tender process.

The 110 metre long, 1,500 tonne kiln is the largest and longest lead time pece of equipment required to reshore some processing now performed in Malaysia.

The $15 million contrat also covers discharge housing, combustion chamber and burner, motor control stations and delivery to Kalgoorlie.

Lynas CEO Amanda Lacaze said: “This order is an important milestone in the development of our new processing plant in Kalgoorlie.

“We are making good progress on the project.”

Building the Kalgoorlie plant does not change the fact that it has part of its supply chain in Malaysia which threatens the prospect of the company gaining US government support for a heavy rare earths processing plant planned for Texas.

A group of senators, led by former Presidential candidate Ted Cruz, warned the Department of Defence it shouldn’t do deals with companies that have supply chains in any country that “presents a risk of supply disruption”, according to Channel 9 media.

Picture: Lynas Malaysia

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