Zirconium bars. Photo: Creative Commons / Alchemist-hp
The NSW Government has approved a mining lease for Alkane Resources subsidiary Australian Zirconia Limited’s Dubbo Zirconia Project (DZP).
Following on from planning approval from the state government in May 2015, the Resources division of the NSW Department of Industry has advised that a mining lease for the project has been granted.
The Environment Protection Licence (EPL) is all that remains for the Dubbo project to have final approval, at which point Alkane says it can begin construction.
The DZP is located 25km south of Dubbo, in the central west region of NSW.
The project is based upon large in-ground resources of zirconium, hafnium, niobium, yttrium and rare earth elements, Alkane said.
“Over several years the company has developed a flow sheet consisting of sulphuric acid leach followed by solvent extraction recovery and refining to produce several products, including proving the process at demonstration pilot plant scale and providing product samples for market evaluation,” the company explained.
Alkane said potential customers from major economies such as United States, Japan and several European countries consider the products from the DZP to be “strategic” or “critical” metals and oxides.
“The chief factors influencing this classification include supply risk, economic importance, availability of substitutes and whether the production time frame is short or long term,” it explained.
“The importance of the DZP as a new source of more than ten strategic metals and oxides diversifying supply away from existing sources continues to gain recognition and support from companies and governments seeking to reduce dependence on current supply sources, particularly from China.”