Arafura attains Major Project Facilitation Status with Australian Government
Last week, Arafura Resources Limited (ASX: ARU) released its 2016 Annual Report. This was then swiftly followed by the news that the Australian government had awarded Arafura’s Nolans Rare Earth Project with Major Project Facilitation (MPF) status. As such the Nolans project joins 17 other significant projects around Australia including Shell’s Prelude FLNG Project to be granted this title.
In terms of its annual report update, the main highlights included the fact that the Nolans Project Work Programs was completed. In particular the company improved the process flowsheet targets at Nolans Bore. The Works Program also delivered an optimal plant feed and throughput that resulted in an adjustment to the planned annual rare earth output to include 3,601 tonnes of NdPr oxide in 14,000 tonnes of TREO over the twenty three year life of mine.
The annual report also confirmed that the final assessment process would be completed by the end of the first quarter next year and thereafter the project will move into the construction phase. If all goes according to plan, Nolans could see its maiden production by 2019/2020. The company is targeting an initial annual mine rate of 525,000 tonnes of ore.
As regards the MPF program, this is managed through the Department of Infrastructure and Regional Development and the status will last until 2019. As a beneficiary of the program, it provides Nolans with support to ensure a timely and efficient approvals process including co-ordination of all relevant Australian and Northern Territory government processes that occur.
The status represents an important milestone in the project and would assist Nolans in gaining its environmental approvals, which are currently pending and is also a vote of confidence which could help the company attract finance.
Arafura’s share price rose slightly to $0.075 on the 22nd of September following the news of its MPF status, peaking at $0.076 at the end of September. This compares to an average share price of $0.071 in the week immediately prior to the announcement (14th-21st September).