Rare earths miner Lynas said this week that it plans to add rare earths processing capacity in the US while increasing its processing capacity in Australia and Malaysia.
The Company announced that it plans to spend AU$500 million by 2025 to build up its operations in Western Australia, which is home to its Mount Weld mine and concentration plant, and in Malaysia, where its Lynas Advanced Materials Plant (LAMP) is located.
Additionally, the Company intends to develop rare earths separation capacity in Texas together with Blue Line, a US rare earths processor.
The slew of news from Lynas comes in the wake of heightening trade tensions between the US and China. The Asian nation is the world’s largest rare earths producer by far, and fears that it could restrict the flow of these metals to the US are rising.
Lynas mines rare earths and completes initial processing at its Mount Weld concentration plant in Western Australia. Three further processing steps are then completed at the LAMP: cracking and leaching, solvent extraction and product finishing.
The plans announced this week will see Lynas transition cracking and leaching away from Malaysia and into Western Australia, a move that should help secure the Company’s ability to operate in Malaysia.
Lynas’ status in Malaysia was jeopardised in December when the country imposed new waste disposal conditions on the renewal of the Company’s operating license. It still faces a September deadline to remove existing waste in the country.
The rare earths producer’s future Malaysian activities will include investing in downstream processing and producing new products at new facilities.
In the US, Lynas will spend the next year working with Blue Line on a proposal for a separation facility in Hondo, Texas. According to Lynas, it will be the only facility of its kind outside of China.
Under its deal with Blue Line, the Company will help keep US end users supplied with the metals. Efforts will focus first on heavy rare earths separation and potentially light rare earths in the future.
Lynas’ LAMP produces both light and heavy rare earths, including praseodymium and neodymium, two rare earths that have recently enjoyed higher demand and pricing. In total, the Company expects its production to rise to 10,500 tonnes per year of neodymium-praseodymium products by 2025, up from 5,444 tonnes in the 2018 fiscal year.