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EPA Board considers Didymium pilot plant at Bell Bay

A proposal to develop a pilot plant at Bell Bay in the state’s north-east has been considered by the EPA Board.

The proposed pilot plant would see trials undertaken to prove a commercial, prototype cell design for electrolytic reduction of the rare earth metals didymium and lanthanum.

Up to three electrolytic reduction cells will be installed in the pilot plant, to enable experimental campaigns to test material properties, cell design configurations and a fluoride fume collection and recycle system.

EPA Board Chair John Ramsay says the proposal was put forward by Lynas Services Pty Ltd.

"The Board considered the evaluation of environmental issues associated with the proposal in the draft Environmental Assessment Report, having regard to the information provided by the proponent in the Environmental Effects Report (EER) " Mr. Ramsay said.

"The matter of air emissions was identified as the key issue for the assessment," Mr Ramsay said.

The Board has concluded that the proposal is capable of being managed in an environmentally acceptable manner such that it is unlikely that the objectives of the Environmental Management and Pollution Control Act 1994 (EMPC Act) would be compromised, provided that environmental permit conditions are imposed and duly complied with.

No public representations were received during the public consultation period.

"The Board has also noted that there is a rapidly growing market for didymium and lanthanum metals, particularly in the renewable energy sector, as well as for energy saving applications," Mr Ramsay said.

The Board heard that the proposed activity would run for a three-year period and involve the production of up to 100 tonnes per year of product.

The proponent lodged a Development Application with the George Town Council.

The Board’s environmental assessment, including conditions, has been forwarded to the Council, which will consider planning issues before deciding whether to grant a permit. If a permit is granted, it must include the conditions required by the Board.

More information is available on the Assessment page.