Iluka share price lifts off on rare earths refinery progress

The Western world is keen to secure rare earths supplies outside of China.

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Key points

  • Iluka share price gains on progress update 
  • Fluor Australia awarded FEED contract for Eneabba rare earths refinery 
  • The first rare earths production is expected in 2025 

The Iluka Resources Ltd (ASX: ILU) share price is marching higher in morning trade, up 1.69%.

Iluka shares closed yesterday at $8.89 and are currently trading for $9.04.

Below, we look at the latest progress reported by the S&P/ASX 200 Index (ASX: XJO) rare earths miner.

What progress was reported that’s lifting the Iluka share price?

The Iluka share price is gaining after the company announced further progress with the development of its Eneabba rare earths refinery in Western Australia.

Iluka reported that Fluor Australia has been awarded the contract to complete the Front End Engineering Design (FEED) and undertake Engineering, Procurement and Construction Management (EPCM) services for the refinery.

The company called the contract award “an important step in the delivery of the refinery and [its] rare earths diversification”. It said Fluor’s 100 plus years of experience in engineering, procurement and construction services will help ensure the successful execution of this “globally significant development”.

The final investment decision for the Eneabba refinery was announced on 4 April, and the Iluka share price gained on that news.

Iluka is funding the development under a risk sharing arrangement with the Australian Government.

The fully integrated refinery will produce light and heavy separated rare earth oxides. It will be able to process feedstocks from Iluka’s own portfolio and from third party suppliers. This includes both mineral sands and rare earths deposits.

Construction is slated to start later in 2022. The first rare earths production is expected in 2025.

What are rare earth elements?

Depending on how you define them, there are either 15 or 17 different rare earth elements.

Despite the name, they’re actually quite abundant. What makes them rare is that they tend to be found in very limited concentrations. Meaning miners need to dig up and sort through a lot of dirt to get to the valuable stuff.

You’ll find rare earths in most modern technologies. That includes powerful magnets used in wind turbines and electric motors. They also form crucial components of your computer and smartphone. And governments are keen to secure supplies for their use in aircraft and high-tech military applications.

Iluka share price snapshot

The Iluka share price has struggled this year, down 11% so far in 2022. That compares to a 12% year-to-date loss posted by the ASX 200.

Motley Fool contributor Bernd Struben has no position in any of the stocks mentioned. The Motley Fool Australia's parent company Motley Fool Holdings Inc. has no position in any of the stocks mentioned. The Motley Fool Australia has no position in any of the stocks mentioned. The Motley Fool has a disclosure policy. This article contains general investment advice only (under AFSL 400691). Authorised by Scott Phillips.

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