Many are now asking will Hastings Technology Metals Ltd. (ASX: HAS) ("Hastings") be Australia's next rare earths producer?
The answer is 'maybe yes'after the Company announced on February 2, 2022: "NAIF approves $140 million loan for Yangibana Rare Earths Project……NAIF loan forms part of A$300-400 million of total debt financing required for Yangibana."
Yangibana is the first Australian rare earths project to receive NAIF funding. The above mentioned Northern Australia Infrastructure Facility (NAIF) loan has a 12½-year tenure and is subject to pre-completion conditions.
Hastings stated: "Yangibana early works construction and design for long-lead items underway in anticipation of plant construction commencing in September 2022 Quarter." The NAIF loan first drawdown is expected to occur in early 2023, aligned to the Yangibana funding schedule.
Hastings states about its planned project: "The Yangibana project, which comprises a mine and beneficiation plant at the Yangibana site and a hydrometallurgical plant at the Ashburton North Strategic Industrial Area (ANSIA) near Onslow, will become Australia's second rare earths producer and expands the country's strategic capability in downstream processing of rare earths minerals." Hastings controls two rare earth projects in Western Australia. They are the Yangibana and Brockman Projects. The more advanced Yangibana Project contains a predominance of neodymium, praseodymium, dysprosium and europium. Hastings state: "Yangibana has the world’s highest composition of neodymium and praseodymium and is located in the Tier 1 mining jurisdiction in Western Australia." The significance here is that neodymium and praseodymium (NdPr) are the highly valued magnet metals.
The Yangibana Project Proven & Probable Reserve is 16.7Mt at 0.95% TREO (0.35% NdPr oxide) for a total contained 158,419 t TREO. The Total Mineral Resource has a contained TREO of 266,417 t (at 0.97% TREO).
Yangibana Project has great metrics – Has a 37% NdPr content – double the world average. The Yangibana Project's CapEx is estimated at A$516 million (A$67 million contingency) but is currently being revised. The Project's November 2019 NPV was A$549 million (IRR 21.1%). NdPr prices have increased significantly since then, so updated Project economics are expected soon.
The Yangibana Project is planned to have a 1.2Mtpa ore throughput, a 15 year mine life, ~15,000 tpa of MREC production, ~8,500 tpa TREO production and 3,400tpa NdPr production. Commissioning is targeted for 2024, subject to final project funding. Hastings has commenced early site works at Yangibana (Mining Proposal has been approved) and recently received Commonwealth environmental approvals to develop the hydrometallurgical plant site at ANSIA near Onslow. Subject to funding, Hastings intends to then commence construction of the beneficiation plant and the hydrometallurgical plant.
On February 2, 2022, Hastings Executive Chairman Charles Lew, stated
"The commitment by NAIF will enable Hastings to finalise the funding requirements for Yangibana's development and move into full-scale construction throughout 2022, with the objective of delivering first production by 2024. Yangibana is an amazing, rare earths, opportunity that will supply the world's highest composition neodymium and praseodymium concentrate to Tier 1 customers in Europe and Asia. This is an exciting time not just for Hastings but for Australia's emerging rare earths sector. We look forward to finalizing the funding arrangements that will enable the Hastings' Board to make a final investment decision in the coming months."