Rare earths-bearing minerals monazite and xenotime occur in many of Australia’s heavy mineral sand deposits and, up until the mid-1990s, monazite was produced from them and exported, mainly to Europe. A brief overview of these activities is given by Hoatson et.al (2011). Currently, REE occurring in heavy mineral sand resources make up around 6% of Australia’s inventory of REE resources.
Mt REO+Y2O3 = million tonnes of rare earth oxide (REO) and yttrium oxide (Y2O3).
Resource size is based on total resources (Measured + Indicated + Inferred, inclusive of Ore Reserves). Note: Mount Gee (Inferred Resource only) is currently not accessible.
World production in 2013 of rare earth oxides was 110,000 tonne, with main production from China of 100,000 tonne, USA at 4,000 tonne and Australia at 2,000 tonne, mainly from the Mount Weld deposit in Western Australia. World resources are dominated by deposits rich in the minerals bastnasite, and monazite., with the largest resources of these minerals in China and the USA.
Some mineral resources are inaccessible for mining because of environmental restrictions, government policies or because they occur within military lands or national parks. All of Australia’s EDR of rare earths are considered to be accessible.
Current interest in REE is shown by the range of projects located in the Northern Territory and most Australian states. This section highlights recent company exploration and development-related activities. Companies use a range of units to report tonnage and grade and these have generally not been converted from the original source material. All reported reserves and resources are compliant with the JORC Code unless otherwise stated.
Following environmental issues in France relating to the disposal of toxic and radioactive waste generated in the processing of monazite, the French plant was closed. A second major obstacle to continued processing of monazite was the high cost of disposing of thorium produced during the process. France’s monazite imports stopped immediately causing Australian mine production to cease. Subsequently, monazite generated by heavy mineral sand mining was returned to the mine.
In recent developments, some companies are planning to restart Australian REE production from mineral sands deposits. Iluka Resources Ltd began a prefeasibility study in 2018 on the Wim 100 deposit near Horsham in Victoria. Also near Horsham, WIM Resources Pty Ltd announced its intention to produce an REE concentrate in conjunction with heavy mineral sand products from its Avonbank project in Victoria.
The Australasian Code for Reporting of Exploration Results, Mineral Resources and Ore Reserves (‘the JORC Code’) is a professional code of practice that sets minimum standards for Public Reporting of minerals Exploration Results, Mineral Resources and Ore Reserves.
The JORC Code provides a mandatory system for the classification of minerals Exploration Results, Mineral Resources and Ore Reserves according to the levels of confidence in geological knowledge and technical and economic considerations in Public Reports.
Public Reports prepared in accordance with the JORC Code are reports prepared for the purpose of informing investors or potential investors and their advisors. They include, but are not limited to, annual and quarterly company reports, press releases, information memoranda, technical papers, website postings and public presentations of Exploration Results, Mineral Resources and Ore Reserves estimates.
The JORC Code was first published in 1989, with the most recent revision being published late in 2012. Since 1989 and 1992 respectively, it has been incorporated in the Listing Rules of the Australian and New Zealand Stock Exchanges, making compliance mandatory for listing public companies in Australia and New Zealand.
The current edition of the JORC Code was published in 2012 and after a transition period the 2012 Edition came into mandatory operation from 1 December 2013. The JORC Code, 2012 Edition can be found here. (http://www.jorc.org/docs/JORC_code_2012.pdf )
The JORC Code is produced by the Australasian Joint Ore Reserves Committee (‘the JORC Committee’). The JORC Committee was established in 1971 and is sponsored by the Australian mining industry and its professional organisations.
The Committee comprises representatives of each of the three parent bodies: The Minerals Council of Australia (MCA), The Australasian Institute of Mining and Metallurgy (The AusIMM), and the Australian Institute of Geoscientists (AIG); as well as representatives of the Australian Securities Exchange (ASX), the Financial Services Institute of Australasia (FinSIA) and the accounting profession.