Australian heavy rare earths producer Northern Minerals Limited (ASX: NTU) has released its quarterly activities report for the three months to June 30 to the market.
Board decision to partially restart operations at the Company’s Browns Range Heavy Rare Earths Pilot Plant Project
Budget approved to recommence and ramp-up exploration activities across the Company’s tenements in the East Kimberley region of Western Australia
Share Purchase Plan offer closed with total funds of A$9.98 million raised (before costs), almost double the target amount
Tranche 1 of the Company’s A$22 million placement to various sophisticated investors raised A$6 million (before costs)
Repayment of A$3 million of the amounts owing on the Company’s A$7.5 million convertible notes
Assessment of suitable internal and external candidates to fill CEO vacancy progressed, following the resignation of George Bauk in the quarter
All resolutions passed at General Meeting held 18 June 2020
Browns Range Pilot Plant restart
Immediately post quarter-close, on 1 July 2020, Northern Minerals advised shareholders that the Board had taken the decision to partially restart operations at the Company’s Browns Range Heavy Rare Earths Pilot Plant Project as well as recommence exploration activities across its tenements in the East Kimberley region of Western Australia.
The Board’s decision followed the lifting of Commonwealth biosecurity restrictions applied to the Kimberley region as part of COVID-19 control measures, which was the catalyst for the Company placing the Pilot Plant on care-and-maintenance at the start of the June quarter.
The health and safety of our people is our number one priority, and our commitment to playing our part in protecting the Kimberley remains central to our planning to remobilise personnel to site.
Long-standing Managing Director and CEO George Bauk announced his resignation on 5 June 2020, with existing Non-Executive Chairman Colin McCavana temporarily assuming the role of Executive Chairman, while Northern Minerals commences an evaluation of potential internal and external executive candidates to fill the vacancy.
Mr McCavana thanked Mr Bauk for his long-term leadership of Northern Minerals that spanned more than a decade.
“George has been an exceptional and resilient leader for the Company, having steered it through some low points in the market with an unwavering focus on realising the potential of the Browns Range Project in northern Western Australia,” Mr McCavana said.
“The culmination of the work spearheaded by George was the development of the Pilot Plant Project at Browns Range, which transitioned Northern Minerals from an explorer to a producer of heavy rare earth elements, including our focus commodity of dysprosium.”
Mr Bauk remains in a strategic advisory role for the Northern Minerals Board and executive management team as the Company transitions to new leadership.
Northern Minerals is progressing planning and logistics to partially restart operations at the Pilot Plant by the end of July, which will initially focus on testwork in the beneficiation circuit followed by tests in the hydrometallurgical circuit.
The Company will also proceed with the mechanical construction and installation of ore-sorting equipment at the front-end of the Pilot Plant, which was suspended in line with the decision to place the Pilot Plant on care and maintenance.
The partial return of Pilot Plant operations at Browns Range will result in approximately three-quarters of the previous Project workforce being re-mobilised and some positions have unfortunately become redundant.
The information gathered from the Pilot Plant operation to date, as well as the upcoming testwork programs, will provide data for the potential Bankable Feasibility Study of a full-scale commercial facility.