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A $30 million grant under the Federal Government’s Modern Manufacturing Initiative (MMI) has been awarded for the construction of a rare earth separation plant.

The funding will go towards the construction of a $90.8 million plant at Arafura Resources’ Nolans Project.

The grant was awarded to Arafura falls under the MMI’s Collaboration Stream, which provides funding to a small number of transformational projects that will create and facilitate collaborative ecosystems. 

Nolans, 135km north of Alice Springs, is Australia’s only shovel-ready NeodymiumPraseodymium (NdPr) project. 

It is a globally significant development with potential to supply around five per cent of world NdPr oxide demand, with an ore-to-oxide business model that will see downstream processing established locally and enable Australia to play a leading role in the diversification of critical raw materials.

The Nolans separation plant will be the first of its kind in Australia and the second outside China, producing separated rare earth oxides and enabling the development of diversified rare earth supply chains. 

Rare earth separation technology does not currently exist in Australia, and Nolans presents an opportunity to develop a higher value product that leverages Australian mineral processing expertise. 

Following construction of the separation plant, there is the potential for hub processing opportunities to be developed for the processing of other rare earth-rich feedstock, enabling the benefits of infrastructure investment and local jobs to be further dispersed. 

Arafura Managing Director, Gavin Lockyer, said, “This grant is an exciting milestone for Arafura, recognising the strategic significance of the Nolans Project and its place in the future of critical minerals processing in Australia.

“Rare earths are critical to the manufacture of electric vehicles and wind turbines, with demand growth forecast to be exponential in coming decades. Australia has a window of opportunity to invest in strategically important rare earths projects such as Nolans and maximise the local jobs and investment benefits of the clean energy revolution.”

The $1.3 billion MMI forms part of the Resources Technology and Critical Minerals Processing Roadmap that aims to develop Australia as a regional resources technology and critical minerals processing hub within ten years. 

The MMI continues to build on broad Australian, Territory and export partner government support for Nolans. 

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