NORTHERN Minerals has signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) with Jien Mining in relation to offtake from Browns Range Rare Earths Project on the border of Western Australia and the Northern Territory. The project will focus on delivery of dysprosium and Northern aims to be the first significant world producer of this element outside of China.

Under the MoU, Northern agrees to sell and Jien agrees to purchase 50% of the project’s offtake on terms, including price and product specification, to be finalized in a definitive offtake agreement. This undertaking includes an exclusivity period over this interest ending at the earliest on June 30, 2017.

As part of the MoU, Northern and Jien have commenced discussions to agree on joint marketing of their respective shares of product under a commercial structure.

In early August Jien received advice from the Australian Government’s Foreign Investment Review Board (FIRB) that it has no objections to its $49.5 million investment. This follows an announcement in July confirming that Jien was satisfied with its due diligence. Following the FIRB’s advice and with all necessary material lodged with relevant government authorities in China, Jien said the final Chinese regulatory approval could now be progressed.

Browns Range has a number of deposits and prospects containing dysprosium and other heavy rare earths, hosted in xenotime mineralization. This facilitates the use of a relatively simple and cost effective processing flowsheet to produce a high value, high purity dysprosium-rich product.

Dysprosium is an essential ingredient in the production of neodymium iron-boron magnets used in clean energy and high technology solutions. As a result of increasing global demand for these applications dysprosium supply is critical.

Completion of a definitive feasibility study (DFS) in February 2015 confirms the project is economically and technically viable. Construction is targeted to commence in 2016, followed by production in 2017 to produce a high purity mixed rare earth carbonate for export.

Northern’s managing director George Baulk said, “Following DFS completion our focus has been on marketing, finance and project approvals. To support our marketing efforts we have expanded the marketing team and have extended our product offerings to include the sale of individual oxides and metals, as well as a mixed rare earth carbonate. This has opened doors to a new range of possibilities and allows us to diversify our potential customer base. Of major significance is the potential for additional revenue through the sale of lutetium.”