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Open for Comment: Draft Environmental Impact Statement for Nolans Project

27 May 2016

Arafura Resources Limited (Arafura) has released the draft Environmental Impact Statement for the Nolans Project for eight weeks for public review.

Arafura plans to mine, concentrate and chemically process rare earths at the Nolans site, located 135 kilometres north-northwest of Alice Springs. Intermediate rare earth products produced at Nolans will be exported overseas either for sale or processing into high-value rare earth products, including a neodymium-praseodymium oxide, used in the manufacture of ultra-strong permanent magnets.

The Project requires assessment under the NT Environmental Assessment Act and is a ‘controlled action’ under the Environment Protection and Biodiversity Conservation Act 1999. The Project is being assessed at the level of an Environmental Impact Statement (EIS) under the bilateral agreement between the Northern Territory and Australian Government Department of the Environment.  The relevant controlling provisions are: Listed threatened species and communities (sections 18 and 18A); and Protection of the environment from nuclear actions (sections 21 and 22A).

Project activities include construction, mining, processing, rehabilitation and decommissioning of an open-cut, rare earth mine, and associated infrastructure. Mining operations would be undertaken using conventional open pit methods (drill, blast, load and haul) to recover up to 800 000 t of ore per annum. Ore would be beneficiated onsite before a rare earths concentrate slurry would be pumped approximately 8 km south to an intermediate processing plant. Rare Earths concentrate would be transported by road then rail to East Arm Port for export. Further processing of the ore would occur at an offshore rare earths separation plant in an established chemical precinct. The Nolans Bore deposit contains thorium and uranium, which will be removed and stored in a waste disposal facility during processing. The operational life of the Project is expected to be 23 to 40 years.

The draft Environmental Impact Statement is available for public comment. Comments are to be submitted on or before COB on 22 July 2016

To make a submission visit