Energy Fuels, Astron to jointly develop the Donald Project in Victoria

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Image credit: Astron

US critical minerals company Energy Fuels Inc and Astron Corporation Limited have signed a non-binding Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) to jointly develop the Donald Rare Earth and Mineral Sands Project (Donald Project) in Victoria, Australia.

The MOU outlines commercial terms and grants Energy Fuels a binding exclusivity period ending on 1 March 2024, allowing due diligence and the negotiation of definitive agreements.

The Donald Project is a ‘world-class’ critical mineral deposit that Energy Fuels believes will provide the company with another near-term, low-cost, large-scale source of monazite sand on rare earth elements concentrate (REEC). This will be transported to the White Mesa Mill in Utah, USA, for processing into advanced REE materials and uranium recovery.

Energy Fuels plans to invest A$180 million in the Donald Project, a new long-term source of critical minerals crucial to the clean energy transition, including REEs, titanium, zircon, and uranium. The project is expected to provide Energy Fuels with 7,000-14,000 metric tons of REEC annually, containing 4,000-8200 tonnes of total REE oxides. Commissioning and ramp-up are expected to begin in 2026, with most of the proposed investment disbursed in 2025.

The Donald Project’s annual REEC consists of 850-1,700 tonnes of neodymium-praseodymium oxide, 70-140 tonnes of dysprosium oxide, and 12-25 tonnes of terbium oxide. It also contains 50,000-100,000 pounds of low-cost recoverable uranium per year, which will be sold to the U.S. nuclear industry for clean, carbon-free electricity generation, in addition to its large-scale uranium production from US mines.

“Energy Fuels is working to secure future large-scale in-situ rare earth element projects around the world, which we expect to become low-cost sources of feed to supply our U.S.-centric REE supply chain in the coming years. Earlier in 2023, we acquired the Bahia Project in Brazil, and now we are working toward partnering with Astron on the Donald Project in Australia. Energy Fuels’ goal is to source monazite from the US and around the World and become a reliable, globally diversified, multi-decade supplier of U.S.-produced magnet REE oxides to EV manufacturers and other end-users. Our announcement today should help people ‘connect-the-dots’ to better understand the magnitude of our burgeoning REE business strategy. We are earning into an essentially ‘de-risked’ heavy mineral sand project that is in Australia, has many years of detailed resource and project evaluation, and has all the main regulatory approvals in place or well-advanced,” Energy Fuels President and CEO Mark S. Chalmers said.

“We are putting Utah on the map as a responsible domestic supplier of many clean energy and critical minerals, including uranium, rare earths, vanadium, and even potentially life-saving medical isotopes. We are not aware of any other U.S. company able to produce as many advanced materials that contribute to carbon-reduction and electrification as Energy Fuels.”

Also published in Australian Resources