Arafura Resources Limited (ASX: ARU) has announced a 54% increase in Ore Reserves for its Nolans Neodymium-Praseodymium (NdPr) Project in the Northern Territory of Australia.
The new Ore Reserves number of 29.5 million tonnes is based on the Project’s Measured and Indicated Mineral Resources and on the pricing, processing and cost assumptions developed during the Definitive Feasibility Study (DFS). Only the mine design and scheduling have been revised to reflect the updated geometallurgical model. Using the processing design envelope from the DFS the Ore Reserves support production over 33 years, an increase of 10 years over the 23-year base case in the DFS.
In addition to the updated Ore Reserves, a production schedule based on the mining inventory has been prepared. It includes some of the Project’s Inferred Mineral Resources, predominately in the later years of mining and processing. This mining inventory consists of approximately 39.9 Mt grading 2.8% TREO and 12% P2O5.
The new Ore Reserves and mining inventory figures exclude all mineralisation intersected in deep exploration drilling completed at Nolans Bore during 2019. It incorporates the updated geometallurgical model derived from the results of beneficiation variability test work on mineralised material types that included samples from the 2019 drilling programme at Nolans Bore.
Arafura Managing Director Gavin Lockyer said that scheduling of the mining inventory, with some minor changes to the design envelope of the process plant, provides far superior financial outcomes over those delivered in the DFS base case.
He said the mining inventory production schedule supports production over 39 years of an average of approximately 4,325 tonnes per annum of NdPr oxide at an operating cost of less than US$24/kg of NdPr oxide (net of phosphoric acid by-product credit).
“The reduction in operating costs cements Arafura as one of the lowest-cost NdPr producers in the world,” Mr Lockyer said.
“The increase in Ore Reserves and mining inventory attests to the long-term potential of the Nolans Project and when read in conjunction with the recently announced deep drilling results, reinforces its standing as a world class NdPr development opportunity.
“I challenge anyone to find a better fully permitted, fully costed NdPr-focused project outside China. It meets all the criteria to be a long term, sustainable supplier of critical minerals into clean energy technologies, and will deliver intergenerational benefits in a part of Australia that is challenged by limited opportunities for genuine economic development.”