The open-pit mine will comprise a flotation concentration plant, a mixed rare earths sulfate refinery and will be powered using hydroelectricity. Once operational, Longonjo mine is expected to produce 12 500 tons of separated rare earths including 5 000 tons of neodymium and praseodymium oxides per annum and treat 1.5 million tons of ore a year. Pensana Plc plans to export up to 40 000 tons of mixed rare earths sulfate from the mine for processing at its $195 million Saltend refinery facility currently being built in the UK.
Tim George, CEO, Pensana, stated that “Following the recent ground breaking ceremony we are delighted to have moved out of the study phase and into the construction phase for both projects. We now have a multi-disciplinary team of over 120 engineers working across both projects,” adding that the projects will be completed on budget and time while meeting environmental sustainability standards.
The mine is expected to have an optimal production timeline of 20 years and play a crucial role in meeting the rapidly expanding demand for magnetic metals used in the construction and maintenance of electric vehicles and wind turbines.