Northern Minerals Limited (ASX: NTU) has provided its quarterly activities report for the period ending 31 March 2020.
Pilot plant at Browns Range temporarily placed into care and maintenance due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
Most of the site-based staff temporarily stood down with a small care and maintenance crew deployed.
136 tonnes of heavy rare earth carbonate was sold during the quarter.
Capital raising program announced post quarter-end aimed at strengthening balance sheet ahead of expected Browns Range restart.
Significant upgrade in the Dazzler Mineral Resource announced
AusIndustry review set aside the negative Research & Development (R&D) tax offset claims for FY17 and FY18, with most activities now deemed to be eligible.
Separation scoping study in the US continues, however timing impacted by COVID-19.
Discussions continuing with government and government agencies with regards to Australia’s Critical Minerals Strategy and Browns Range.
Browns Range Pilot Plant Project
In March, the Company made the difficult decision to temporarily suspend site operations at the Browns Range Pilot Plant Project.
The decision was a result of anticipated impacts of the COVID-19 virus and the broad range of necessary measures being undertaken by the Australian Federal and WA governments. Soon after the decision was made, the WA Government enacted travel restrictions within regional WA to halt the spread of COVID-19, making it difficult to safely move people to and from the Browns Range site in the East Kimberley region of WA.
The health and safety of our people is our number one priority, and our commitment to playing our part in protecting the Kimberley stands alongside that.
Given the extreme remoteness of the Browns Range site, we took the difficult but necessary decision to temporarily suspend the site operations and move to care and maintenance.
The directives by the WA government to protect the vulnerable residents of aboriginal communities, many of which are located within the Kimberley region, was an additional factor in this decision. We have a close relationship with the residents of Broome, Halls Creek and Ringer Soak and our continued operation and movement of goods and personnel through these communities posed too high a risk.
Northern Minerals takes the threat of the COVID-19 pandemic very seriously. With the Browns Range site in care and maintenance, we have temporarily stood down most site-based staff except for a small care and maintenance team deployed to site on an extended roster and have moved some site-based staff to a ‘working from home’ basis with reduced hours for the foreseeable future.
In order to manage cashflow, we have also worked to implement several cashflow saving measures during this period.
As of 1 April, the Board and senior executives have agreed to a temporary 50% reduction in salaries. Other staff in the corporate office have either been temporarily stood down or have reduced their working hours. These measures will be reviewed on a periodic basis. We thank our entire workforce for the significant financial sacrifices that have been required during these unprecedented times.