Rare earth metals, conceptual image. The rare earth metals, or rare earth elements, are a set of seventeen chemical elements in the periodic table, specifically the fifteen lanthanides plus scandium and yttrium.
ASX-listed Peak Resources has selected the location of its proposed rare earth refinery at Tees Valley on the north east coast of the United Kingdom.

Peak Resources and its partners are developing the Ngualla rare earths project in Tanzania into a low cost, next generation rare earth project aligned to the “high value, expanding magnet metal market.

The company has tailored its processing flow sheet to focus on the production of neodymium and praseodymium, which in 2015 accounted for 85% of the rare earths used in the permanent magnet market by value.

To better position itself in this market, Peak Resources has made a strategic decision to establish a rare earth refinery at a location with access to global shipping, cheap and reliable bulk reagent supplies (particularly hydrochloric acid and caustic soda), a skilled labour force, readily available power, water and environmentally sustainable options to dispose of tailings materials.

Its chosen location, Wilton International Site in Tees Valley, is near the town of Middlesbrough in the United Kingdom (UK). It is a large scale industrial park offering a “plug and play” service with existing access to reliable and competitively priced power, utilities and services.

Wilton is also the planned home of UK-listed Sirius Minerals’ $237 million materials handling and port facility for its North Yorkshire multi-nutrient Polyhalite fertilizer project.

Wilton is further located within 3 km of the Teesport, a deep water port from where the rare earth mineral concentrate will be shipped, and close to a number of facilities that are capable of managing the tailings from the process.

Peak Resources’ MD Darren Townsend said: “The case for Tees Valley as the location for a Rare Earth Refinery is compelling. Tees Valley will be the base case in the bankable feasibility study currently being completed, however, the company is also evaluating additional routes to market to provide it with maximum flexibility and options relevant to today’s market environment.

Whilst the long-term impact of Brexit is not yet fully understood, the devaluation of the Pound is expected to improve operating costs and the UK’s progressive stance on maintaining competitive corporate fiscal regimes post Brexit is also positive.”

Peak Resources is on track to complete the bankable feasibility study for the Ngualla project late in the first quarter or early second quarter 2017. The permitting activities for a rare earth refinery have already started with the appointment of WYG Project Management and Technical Consultancy; the planning permission and environmental permit is expected to be granted in 2017.

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