Arafura sets 2050 Net Zero target

Arafura sets 2050 Net Zero target

ASX-listed Arafura Rare Earths has outlined its greenhouse gas – ‘GHG’ emissions reduction pathway as it aims to meet its 2050 Net Zero Emissions commitment for the Nolans rare earth project near Alice Springs in the NT.

To achieve its lofty goal, Arafura is looking at a combination of renewable sources of electrical power, such as solar and wind, combined with large-scale thermal energy storage, or ‘TES’, to provide a steady stream of renewable thermal energy for steam generation. The TES will be heated from concentrated solar thermal, or ‘CST’.

An advanced technology, CST – as its name suggests – concentrates sunlight on a target to create very high temperatures. The heat can then be used to generate electricity by heating water for steam to turn a turbine.

Compared to electric energy, Arafura says TES offers a low-cost, long-term solution for energy storage.

The company is looking for an independent power supplier to procure electric power and steam from under a “build-own-operate” model for the project.

Arafura says the tender process is underway to select a supplier and expects to finalize the selection process by the end of the current quarter.

Meanwhile, the company has begun its own studies to determine the best mix of solar, wind and batteries to provide at least 50 percent of the project’s electrical power from renewable sources.

Additionally, an optimization study of renewable thermal energy generation and storage options has been initiated as Arafura works towards commissioning a demonstration scale renewable thermal energy generation and storage plant for implementation by 2030.

ASX-listed Arafura Rare Earths recently turbocharged the economics of its Nolans rare earths project, which included a 68 per cent increase in the net present value of the now $2.4 billion project.

The current economics of its construction-ready neodymium-praseodymium project included power generation from the nearby Amadeus gas pipeline at a base case gas price assumption of A$8.34 per gigajoule. or GJ.

Arafura predicts that the average cost of the chosen net zero path over the life of the mine is equivalent to generating all energy from gas at a price of $9.70 per GJ.

We will update changes in the price, technology maturity and availability of relevant technologies, such as long-term energy storage, close monitoring and the GHG emission reduction route in the future if it is appropriate to do so.

Arafura says its 56 million ton resource with 2.6 percent total rare earths contains 15 of the rare earth elements, but is particularly enriched in the rare earths neodymium and praseodymium that are most commonly used in high-tech magnets for wind turbines and electric vehicles.

As investors look for companies committed to reducing GHG emissions, harnessing renewable energy to degas its operations is not only good for the world, but also seems like a sound business decision. It is ominous to think that Arafura is on the net zero path in 2050 to power its own rare earth project from the very minerals it mines.

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