Guandong eyes West Australian rare earths
(Source: The Australian) — Rare earths explorer Hastings Rare Metals has hosted a delegation from one of China’s biggest rare earths miners at its project in the East Kimberley of northern Western Australia, as it steps up its efforts to secure a partner in its proposed $700 million development.
Representatives of Guangdong Rare Earths Group are understood to have visited Hastings’ namesake project near Halls Creek at the weekend, with the group believed to be looking to secure new long-term rare earths supplies. Guangdong Rare Earths is the second Chinese group to look at Hastings, with China Minmetals also thought to have expressed an interest in the company.
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Hastings has been looking for a deep-pocketed partner since it completed a scoping study into the project this year that suggested the deposit could support a net present value of $1.9 billion and generate an internal rate of return of 26 per cent. Hastings, which had only $1.9m in cash to its name at the end of September, and which has a market capitalisation of just $14m, needs to secure $20m to cover the cost of a feasibility study into its project.
The Hastings deposit is expected to cost $700m to develop, well beyond the current capacity of the company. While rare earths prices have cooled in recent months, Hastings says the prices of specific “heavy” rare earths within its project — such as dysprosium and yttrium — attract a premium to “light” rare earths found in other Australian projects. According to Hastings, the project is the fourth-largest heavy rare earths deposit in the world and the largest in Australia.
China controls about 95 per cent of the world’s production of rare earths, which are used in manufacturing a number of hi-tech applications such as wind turbines, electronics and hybrid vehicles. The apparent interest shown in Hastings contrasts with the general market performance of rare earths stocks this year. Weakening rare earths prices have seen investors desert the sector. Lynas Corp, which owns the Weld Range rare earths deposit near Laverton in Western Australia, has seen its share price decline from $1.59 in February to 64c on Friday. Northern Minerals — which owns the Browns Range project on the West Australian and Northern Territory border — has dropped from 56c in February to 18c.
Special Thanks: Paul Garvey, Editor –The Australian
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