Located 160km southeast of Halls Creek in northern Western Australia, the Browns Range Project is the flagship project of Australian mining company Northern Minerals.
The Northern Minerals’ Browns Range project focuses on the production of the heavy rare earth element dysprosium, which is used in the manufacturing of permanent magnets, in electric motors and wind turbines. A definitive feasibility study for the Browns Range project was completed in March 2015 and the Western Australian Department of Mines and Petroleum (DMP) approved the project plan in August 2015.
When completed, the project will be Australia’s only heavy rare earth mine and the first significant dysprosium producer outside of China. It is expected to have a mine life of 11 years. The Northern Mineral’s tenure around the Brown Range project covers an area of approximately 2,750km² and is centred on the Browns Range Dome, a major geological feature covering approximately 1,500km². The Dome is located in the Northern Tanami region, within both Western Australia and the Northern Territory.
The company commenced the production of heavy rare earth carbonate in late 2018 as part of a three-year pilot assessment of economic and technical feasibility of a larger scale development at Browns Range. The $56m pilot plant project involves the construction of a three-year, 60,000tpa plant to produce 49,000kg dysprosium, in 590,000kg total rare earth oxide (TREO) a year.
The second stage of this project will involve the development of the mine from trial phase to bankable feasibility study level based on the results of the detailed feasibility study (DFS). It will focus on minimising the mining costs, improving productivity, producing a premium product, and increasing the ore reserves. The third stage will include the extraction of 585,000tpa of ore at 0.66% TREO resulting in the production of 279,000kg of dysprosium contained in 3.09 million kilos of TREO a year.
In January 2022 Northern Minerals paused the feasibility study for a full-scale beneficiation plant at its Browns Range rare earths project, as it undertakes a company-wide strategic review.
The company will be completing the three-year test program on the pilot plant at Browns Range during the March 2022 quarter, and the results of these test programs, including results from the ore sorter, will be used and updated when the feasibility study is restarted.
See more at Northern Minerals website