Rare earth’s developer Arafura Resources Limited (ASX:ARU) has overcome a critical hurdle with the execution of Nolans Project Native Title Agreement for the Nolans Neodymium-Praseodymium (NdPr) Project in the Northern Territory.
The signing of the Native Title Agreement facilitates the grant of the project’s mineral leases by the Northern Territory Government.
The agreement has been executed by the project’s native title holders (through their prescribed body corporates), the Central Land Council (CLC) and Arafura Rare Earths Pty Ltd (ARE), a wholly owned subsidiary of Arafura.
This follows a meeting in late February 2020, attended by the native title holders, senior staff of the CLC and representatives of Arafura, at Aileron, approximately 12 km from the Nolans mine site, at which the native title holders resolved to enter into the Native Title Agreement.
Arafura’s Managing Director, Gavin Lockyer, said the Native Title Agreement was intended to be presented to the first full meeting of the CLC for 2020 in April, however this meeting was cancelled due to COVID-19-related travel restrictions, designed to protect residents of remote indigenous communities across the Northern Territory.
Since that time the company, the CLC, native title holders and the Northern Territory Government have worked together to create circumstances that would allow the prescribed body corporates representing the multiple native title holders to sign the Native Title Agreement.
Under the terms of the Native Title Agreement, the native title holders give their consent to the grant of the primary mineral lease, ML 26659, ancillary mineral leases, MLs 30702 to 30704, 32411 to 32416 and related access authorities. These mineral leases host the mine, process plant, tailings and process residues containment facilities, accommodation village, borefield and the infrastructure elements of the Nolans operation.
The Northern Territory Minister for Primary Industry and Resources intends to grant each of the mineral leases to ARE for an initial term of 25 years, with multiple renewal periods possible and agreed under the Native Title Agreement.
The Native Title Agreement also provides for compensation payments for the benefit of native title holders in recognition of the impacts of the project on their native title rights and interests.
“On behalf of the company, I wish to extend my appreciation to native title holders and the CLC for their work in negotiating and executing the Native Title Agreement. “We look forward to developing the Nolans Project with the support and participation of native title holders and for the mutual benefit of all parties.”
Arafura Resources will, in the next few years, become a long-term, secure supplier of neodymium and praseodymium (NdPr) oxide from its 100%-owned Nolans project. The project site is located 135 km north along the Stuart Highway from the town of Alice Springs.
The project’s cornerstone asset is the Nolans Bore rare earths-phosphate-uranium-thorium (REE-P-U-Th) deposit, one of the largest and most intensively explored deposits of its kind in the world. The deposit contains a JORC 2012-compliant Mineral Resources of 56 million tonnes at an average grade of 2.6% total rare earth oxides (TREO) and 11% phosphate (P2O5) that extends to 215 metres below the surface. Two-thirds of the contained rare earths are in high confidence Measured and Indicated resources.