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Browns Range pilot plant. Image: Northern Minerals

Northern Minerals has installed and commissioned an ore sorting system at its Browns Range pilot plant which has the potential to double the feed grade to its mill while reducing costs.

In the coming months the heavy rare earths company will begin bulk sample validation tests to gain a larger data set for more accurate forecast improvements.

The results of these tests will provide input into Northern Minerals’ feasibility study on the development of a commercial-scale benefication plant at Browns Ridge

A standalone plant has been identified by the company’s board as the fastest path to full-scale production and cash flow from the project.

If approved, the plant is expected to produce a dysprosium and terbium-rich heavy rare earth concentrate product for sale.

Northern Minerals chief executive officer Mark Tory said the commission of the ore sorter put the company in a positive position.

“With the ore sorter commissioned we are now in a position to run bulk samples from existing stockpiled ore, including lower grade material, to better define how we can apply this technology to optimise our preferred benefication process,” he said.

The company announced in September it had gained regulatory approvals for ore sorting installation at Brown Ridge, with construction of the structural and mechanical equipment completed in the March quarter.

Northern Minerals is a principal supplier of rare earth metals with a large landholding in Western Australia and the Northern Territory.

Its portfolio consists of three projects, the Browns Range and John Galt projects in Western Australia, and the Boulder Ridge Project in the Northern Territory.