Australian rare earths explorer Arafura Resources (ASX:ARU) has reported a “major” increase in mine life for its Nolans neodymium-praseodymium project in the Northern Territory.

Thanks to an updated mine design, Nolans’ ore reserves have been increased by 54 percent to 29.5 million tonnes, supporting a 33 year mine life.

“I challenge anyone to find a better fully permitted, fully-costed neodymium-praseodymium-focused project outside China,” Arafura Managing Director Gavin Lockyer said.

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He continued, “(Nolans) meets all the criteria to be a long term, sustainable supplier of critical minerals into clean energy technologies, and will deliver intergenerational benefits in a part of Australia that is challenged by limited opportunities for genuine economic development.”

Nolans is located right in the middle of the Australian continent, 150 kilometres north of the small town of Alice Springs — the third largest settlement in the Northern Territory.

The updated mine life is based on ore reserves from way back in 2017.

“Only the mine design and scheduling have been revised to reflect the updated geometallurgical model,” the report, released on Wednesday (March 11) states. “Using the processing design envelope from the definitive feasibility study (DFS) the ore reserves support production over 33 years, an increase of 10 years over the 23-year base case in the DFS.”

In addition to the change in mine design, an updated mining schedule, which includes some of the project’s inferred mineral resources, “provides far superior financial outcomes over those delivered in the DFS base case,” as per the report.

“The mining inventory production schedule supports production over 39 years of an average of approximately 4,325 tonnes per annum of neodymium-praseodymium oxide at an operating cost of less than US$24/kg of neodymium-praseodymium oxide.”

Lockyer said that the reduction in operating costs puts Arafura’s cost of producing neodymium-praseodymium among the lowest in the world.

“The increase in ore reserves and mining inventory attests to the long-term potential of the Nolans project and when read in conjunction with the recently announced deep drilling results, reinforces its standing as a world class neodymium-praseodymium development opportunity.”

Arafura was trading up by 4.76 percent on the Australian Securities Exchange by the close of business on Wednesday at AU$0.066.

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Securities Disclosure: I, Scott Tibballs, hold no direct investment interest in any company mentioned in this article.

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