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Browns Range pilot plant and rare earth carbonate bags. Image: Northern Minerals

Northern Minerals is set to deliver heavy rare earth carbonate from the Browns Range mine in Western Australia to thyssenkrupp, as it bounces back from COVID-19 challenges.

The company is preparing a shipment of 40,406 kilograms of heavy rare earth carbonate containing 1835 kilograms of dysprosium and 233 kilograms of terbium.

This takes the company’s total rare earth carbonate produced at Browns Range to more than 211,000 kilograms.

Northern Minerals chief executive Mark Tory said despite the operational and supply chain challenges in the past 12 months, the global trend toward electrification of transport continued to accelerate.

Following the COVID-19 pandemic, Northern Minerals last year suspended its operations and laid off a portion of its workforce at Browns Range.

However, Tory is confident that Browns Range is still the most strategically placed heavy rare earths operation in the Western world.

He said: “We continue to apply our significant R&D (research and development) learnings to successfully produce batches of REC (rare earth carbonate) for our European offtake partner thyssenkrupp from our pilot plant in the Kimberley region of Western Australia.”

Northern Minerals stated that the demand for dysprosium and terbium was rapidly increasing as they were used in permanent magnet motors in powertrain applications.

According to Browns Range, the production of e-motors for light vehicles climbed from 11 million units in 2019 to nearly 14 million units in 2020.

This is expected to further increase by 57 per cent to 21.8 million units this year.

The rise is in line with the global light vehicles production, which is forecast to reach over 100 million units by 2030.

The Browns Range mine is 160 kilometres south east of Halls Creek in northern Western Australia.