Donald Rare Earth and Mineral Sands Project is one of the world’s largest undeveloped heavy mineral sands resources.
Energy Fuels, an American company specializing in the production of uranium, rare earth elements (REEs), and vanadium, has entered into a non-binding memorandum of understanding with Australian Astron Corporation to co-develop the Donald Rare Earth and Mineral Sands Project in the Southeastern Australian State of Victoria. Astron is a company involved in mineral sand processing and selling zirconium and titanium-related products.
According to Astron (PDF), the Donald Project is 3rd largest rare earth resource, excluding China, and is the largest global zircon resource. The companies estimate the project to yield 7,000 to 14,000 metric tons of REE concentrate per year and expect commissioning and ramp-up to begin in 2026. The concentrate is planned to be exported to the U.S. for processing into REE oxides and other advanced REE materials and recovery of the contained uranium in Energy Fuels’ refining facility in Utah.
Building a U.S.-Centric REE Supply Chain
Energy Fuels aims to create a fully-fledged U.S.-centric REE supply chain for which it seeks new feedstock sources globally. In 2022, the company made headlines, announcing to mine REEs in the Brazilian state of Bahia, and completed the acquisition of the project in early 2023.
Already in 2021, Energy Fuels and Canadian Neo Performance successfully linked Europe and the United States when the first shipment of REE carbonate was transported from the Utah mill to Neo’s separation facility in Estonia. The beginning of full-scale operations was said to take two to three years. The feedstock for the Utah plant could originate from Australia or Brazil in the future, reducing supply dependencies on market leader China.