Rare earth miner Lynas will build its new $500 million cracking and leaching plant in the historic gold mining town of Kalgoorlie.
Kalgoorlie was selected from two shortlisted locations in the Goldfields region, the company said on Monday.
The plant will perform the first step of processing rare earth material from Lynas’ Mt Weld mine, about 300km north-east near Laverton, that had previously been shipped to Malaysia.
Lynas expects work to begin in earnest on the plant in 2021, expected to create about 500 construction jobs in the city of 30,000.
When the plant is complete in late 2022 or 2023 it will support the employment of about 200 people in the region, chief executive Amanda Lacaze said.
“This is a terrific opportunity to create new jobs in what is really a very liveable little city,” she said.
“We are so proud to be investing in the Kalgoorlie-Boulder region.”
Lynas will also explore opportunities for performing upstream solvent extraction in Western Australia.
“There’s a little bit we need to do to solve a number of challenges to be able to do that,” Ms Lacaze said.
Lynas agreed to relocate its cracking and leaching operations to WA by 2025 to renew its operating licence of its plant in Malaysia, where the low-level radioactive waste produced through the process prompted controversy from nearby residents and environmentalists.
Ms Lacaze said Lynas was “well-committed” to its Malaysian operations and workers and had no plans to retreat from the country.
“This is not a signal to any lack of commitment to Malaysia,” Ms Lacaze said, noting Lynas’s plant near Kuantan represented a $1 billion investment.
Lynas has signed an option to sublease an industrial-zoned property from the City of Kalgoorlie-Boulder that was originally intended for Neometals’ planned lithium hydroxide plant.
City of Kalgoorlie-Boulder chief executive John Walker said Neometals had varied their option to sublease to allow both Lynas and Neometals to be accommodated.
WA Premier Mark McGowan said the decision to base the plant in Kalgoorlie was a fantastic result for the Goldfields.
“Kalgoorlie has a long and rich history in mining innovation, so there is no better place for Lynas Corporation, and other multi-national businesses, to set up their processing operations,” he said.
Lynas shares closed up 2.4 per cent to $2.10.
Source: Thanks smh.com