Australian mining firm Northern Minerals (NM) has concluded a long-term offtake agreement for heavy rare earth carbonate from its Browns Range pilot plant with the trading arm of German steelmaker Thyssenkrupp.
"Northern Minerals is one of the few suppliers of rare earths outside China," Thyssenkrupp Materials Trading chief executive Wolfgang Schnittker said. The dysprosium-rich Browns Range mining project in western Australia sent its first shipment of heavy mixed rare earth carbonate in December 2018 and is targeting production of 1,200 t/yr from its pilot plant.
The agreement with Thyssenkrupp is for 100pc of the offtake, including stockpiled material, and includes flexibility for NM to supply heavy rare earths as separated products.
The new deal replaces an offtake agreement with China's Lianyugang Zeyu New Materials, which has been terminated.
Heavy rare earths dysprosium and terbium are needed in the production of high-performance rare earth magnets, which are used in consumer electronics, electric vehicle engines and other automotive applications.
"With this shift [to electric vehicles], both car and component makers are accelerating plans to invest further down the production chain in order to secure surety of supply," NM chief executive George Bauk said.