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Flat rare earths prices but Mt Weld stars

Mt Weld rare earths

Lynas Rare Earths said it experienced “flat market pricing” during the December quarter, but this was offset by a new record at its Mt Weld operation in WA.

A record quarter of rare earths oxide tonnes (REOt) in concentrate was achieved, which came as a result of ore processing improvements at Mt Weld.

The REOt output, which Lynas didn’t disclose, was 5 per cent higher than the previous record achieved in the second quarter of the 2017–18 financial year (FY18).

The milestone came as Lynas continues its ‘Mining Campaign 4-1’ at Mt Weld, which involves the movement of ore from the open-cut mine to the run of mine (ROM) stockpiles.

Lynas sold neodymium-praseodymium (NdPr) to China at $US83 ($116.69) per kilogram during the December quarter, which it deemed “flat market pricing”.

But prices improved towards the end of the quarter.

“Market prices started to increase again from December in anticipation of the late January Lunar New Year holidays and an expected rebound of the consumption in China,” Lynas managing director Amanda Lacaze said.

“Future pricing trends will depend on China’s economic recovery.”

Lynas enjoyed a 42 per cent increase in its quarterly sales revenue from $163.8 million in the September quarter to $232.7 million in the three months to December 31.

The company also benefited from a higher sales price for mixed heavy rare earths (SEG) and new lanthanum-cerium (La-Ce) specialty products.

Lynas achieved a 11 per cent uplift in NdPr production from 1359 tonnes in the September quarter to 1508 tonnes in the December quarter.

The Mt Weld expansion project continues to progress as planned, including the recruitment of an integrated management team (IMT) to be based in Perth.

The Lynas 2025 growth plan targeted a 50 per cent increase in NdPr production to 10,500 tonnes per annum by 2025, including significant development of the Mt Weld orebody and beneficiation circuit.

But in order for Lynas to grow with the market, this previously announced growth plan will be accelerated and increased.

“Investment in capacity expansion will be required at every production stage,” Lacaze said in August 2022. “This starts with increasing feedstock availability and this project will substantially expand Mt Weld’s feedstock capacity, targeting feedstock production capacity of 12,000 tonnes per annum NdPr equivalent in 2024.”

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