VHM will start the public exhibition period for its Goschen rare earths and minerals sands project in Victoria next week.

  • Rare earths and mineral sands developer VHM ticks off important approvals milestone with public exhibition period set to begin next week
  • Goschen project forecast to contribute more than $1.3 billion to Victorian economy and more than $2 billion to local communities over 20-25 operating life
  • Mineral Resources boss Chris Ellison among the high-profile shareholders on VHM’s register
  • First production expected from Goschen in 2025

Victoria could soon become a landmark supplier of critical rare earths and mineral sands with aspiring producer VHM officially launching the countdown towards construction of its flagship Goschen project.

Goschen Project

VHM (ASX: VHM) this week confirmed the Environmental Effects Statement (EES) for Goschen – located 275km north of Melbourne and 35km south-west of the small township of Swan Hill – has been approved by Victoria’s Minister for Planning and will be placed on public exhibition for up to 40 business days, beginning 20 November.

Public exhibition of the EES marks a significant milestone in the Goschen approvals process as VHM moves a step closer towards its targeted construction start date during the second half of next year.

Following a positive completion of the public exhibition, independent panel hearing and remaining approvals assessment outcomes, the VHM board will be in a position to render a final investment decision for the Goschen project.

VHM worked closely with environmental approvals consultant AECOM to reach the EES public exhibition milestone which was the culmination of five years of environmental and social impact assessment works.

Subject to the approvals timeline, VHM anticipates first production from Goschen in 2025.

“The public exhibition phase of the EES marks a significant milestone in the Goschen approvals process and an achievement for all involved in the project to date,” VHM chief executive Ron Douglas said.

“This is one step closer to the planned construction in 2024.

“This also marks progress for Australia’s supply and trade position in the global critical rare earth markets.”

Goschen is ‘rare’ in every sense of the word

Goschen is the centrepiece of an emerging critical minerals province in the Loddon Mallee region of north-west Victoria.

VHM is also one of Victoria’s largest tenement holders with 2,860km2 of near-contiguous ground in a region which is also home to the likes of other minerals sands and rare earths players such as Astron Corporation (ASX: ATR), Tronox and ACDC Metals (ASX: ADC).

While the company has been active at Goschen for several years, VHM only listed on the ASX in January following a $30 million IPO. Mineral Resources (ASX: MIN) boss Chris Ellison is one of the company’s highest profile shareholders.

According to the DFS released in March, Goschen is forecast to churn out $270 million in cash annually over its first decade of operation. Capex for the proposed 5 mtpa multi-commodity plant is estimated at $606 million and will be configured to produce a mix of zircon-titania heavy mineral concentrate (134,500t), rare earth concentrates (9428t) and mixed rare earth carbonate (8568t) over 20 years.

Other key financial estimates include pre-tax NPV of $1.525 billion, IRR of 44% and annual EBITDA of $291 million. Approximately 70% of Goschen’s revenue will be derived from its rare earths products, including neodymium, praseodymium, dysprosium and terbium, with the zircon and titania concentrate revenue covers over 50% of the mining, processing and logistics costs of the entire operation.

Goshen’s proposed mining operation is relatively simple. With the rare earths already liberated in sands, there is no blasting or drilling required, compared to those hard rock or clay mine developments.

All of the products VHM will produce are listed as “critical minerals” in Australia and the US.

VHM has signed a three-year offtake agreement with China’s biggest rare earths importer Shenghe Resources for 60% of both the heavy mineral concentrate and rare earth concentrate for Phase 1 of the Goschen project.

Opening Victoria’s critical minerals gateway

This approvals milestone goes beyond VHM’s Goschen project and potentially paves the way for peer developers in Victoria’s critical mineral sectors.

Development of a major mining and processing operation Goschen is viewed as something which could not only ignite Victoria’s mostly static resources industry but deliver “The Garden State” its first real exposure to the global critical minerals supply chain which includes the rare earths needed for electric vehicles, energy efficiency and other technology.

Goschen is expected to add an estimated $1.3 billion to the Victorian economy and more than $2 billion to the local Loddon-Mallee communities over the forecast 20-25 years of operations.

It has also attained “Major Project” status from the Australian Federal Government.

VHM continues to maintain strong ties with the local communities around Goschen, having entered into MOUs with the Swan Hill Rural City and Gannawarra shires to ensure the best sustainable, social and economic future for all parties.

Goschen is set to be one of the largest employers in the Loddon-Mallee region once the mining operation is up and running with a forecast workforce of about 400 people.

There are more than 100,000 FIFO workers in Australia’s resources industry at large, with many making the commute from Victoria for work. VHM believes a homegrown project such as Goschen will allow some of those workers to stay local, alongside the positive impact it can have on personal relationships.

Published by Stockhead