Australia’s Arafura Resources Ltd has lined up a potential customer in South Korea for rare earths from its Nolans project, crucial towards completing a bankable feasibility study on the project later this year.
Arafura aims to become the world’s fourth-biggest producer of rare earths, looking to break China’s dominance of the global market for the metals used in everything from iPods to hybrid car batteries and wind turbines.
The company said it had signed a non-binding memorandum of understanding with a large Korean multinational, which it declined to name, that would involve funding for the Nolans project and buying at least 3,000 tonnes per year of rare earths output from the project.
The companies could also team up to develop rare earth separation facilities in Australia and South Korea, it said.
Arafura said the South Korean company had experience in major construction projects and had ties to companies in the chemicals industry and rare earths users.
Arafura has been targeting customers in Japan, South Korea, Europe and the United States and has already signed a letter of intent with Germany’s ThyssenKrupp AG.