Strategically significant government loan enables development of Australia’s first fully integrated rare earths refinery

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4 April 2022

The government has announced a nationally significant partnership with Iluka Resources to develop Australia’s first fully integrated rare earths refinery.

Through the Critical Minerals Facility, the government helps to get projects off the ground and bolsters this key sector of the Australian economy.

This latest project will advance the development of Australia’s sovereign critical minerals processing capability by producing separated rare earth oxides here in Australia. 

The government’s $1.25 billion loan will enable Iluka to establish the Eneabba Rare Earths Refinery in Western Australia. It will create jobs and economic opportunity for regional communities and link them to supply chains for the markets and technologies of the future.

The Eneabba refinery will produce high value products (neodymium, praseodymium, dysprosium and terbium) that are necessary for a wide range of technologies, including:

  • electric vehicles
  • telecommunications
  • clean energy generation.

The refinery could supply up to 9% of global demand for rare earth oxide products in 2026, when it is projected to come online.

It will establish Australia as a major supplier in the rare earths market which is expected to grow significantly over coming decades as demand for advanced electronics, minerals and metals increases dramatically.

The Eneabba refinery will have the capacity to serve as a rare earth processing hub for more deposits across Australia. This will lower cost and reduce risks, helping other projects get to market. 

This partnership represents a major step forward for government in:

  • pursuing the objectives of the Critical Minerals Strategy
  • utilising Australia’s natural resources
  • potentially underpinning new industries and applications.

The project is the latest of critical minerals projects to receive financial support from the government, including:

  • $239 million in loans to EcoGraf Ltd and Renascor Resources through the Critical Minerals Facility
  • $243 million in grant funding to four critical minerals projects under the Modern Manufacturing Initiative
  • the $200 million Accelerator Initiative grants program
  • a $140 million loan to Hastings Technology Metals Ltd under the Northern Australian Infrastructure Facility
  • $50 million for the establishment of a virtual National Critical Minerals Research and Development Centre.

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