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Arafura's $705m Nolans project in Australia gets EPA clearance

EBR Staff Writer Published 08 January 2018

Arafura Resources said that its A$900m ($705m) Nolans project to mine rare earth elements in Australia’s Northern Territory has been recommended for final environmental approval by the Northern Territory Environment Protection Authority (NT EPA).

The proposed mining project is located 135km north from Alice Springs. It is expected to help Arafura become a long-term, secure supplier of neodymium and praseodymium (NdPr) through the mining of the Nolans Bore rare earths-phosphate deposit.

NdPr are important components for manufacturing strong magnets in various green and sustainable products like wind turbines and hybrid vehicles.

NT EPA has recommended the environmental approval of the project subject to conditions relating to appropriate operational controls. It comes after completion of an environmental impact assessment of the project by the government body.

Its recommendation comes despite identifying various long-term environmental risks and impacts associated with the project, reported ABC News. However, EPA believes that the risks and impacts can be managed.

Arafura stated that the completion of the NT EPA’s assessment is an important milestone in taking the project towards a final investment decision (FID).

Arafura managing director Gavin Lockyer said: “Our sustainability team has worked diligently alongside our environmental consultants GHD to produce comprehensive, quality documentation to support the passage of the Nolans project through the Northern Territory environmental approvals process.

“This should go some way to securing final government approval for the project, enabling construction to move forward, subject to financing and FID.”

NT EPA’s environmental impact assessment report and recommendations have been issued to the Northern Territory Government’s (NTG) Ministers for Environment and Natural Resources, and Primary Industry and Resources, who will look into the final approval process.

The report has also been issued to the federal government’s Department of the Environment and Energy for assessing the project’s compliance under the Environment Protection and Biodiversity Conservation Act. Arafura anticipates this section of the project assessment to be completed next month.

The environmental impact assessments from both the NT EPA and the federal government will constitute the basis of the final environmental approval by the NTG, which is likely to be made during the current quarter.