Northern Minerals (ASX:NTU) has been awarded $4.8 million to develop an aboriginal training-to-work program (T2W) at its Browns Range Heavy Rare Earth project in the East Kimberley.
The funding was awarded under the federal government's Building Better Regions Fund.
Northern Minerals will work as part of a consortium led by the Wunan Foundation, an aboriginal development organisation.
The $4.8 million funding will contribute towards the total T2W project cost of $8.1 million, which includes the establishment of economic infrastructure at Browns Range.
The model attempts to integrate on-site classroom training with process line experience, supported by a curriculum designed for the aboriginal audience.
The Browns Range Heavy Rare Earth project contains a number of deposits and prospects containing high value dysprosium and other heavy rare earths, hosted in xenotime mineralisation.
Dysprosium is an essential ingredient in the production of DyNdFeB (dysprosium neodymium iron-boron) magnets used in clean energy and high technology solutions.
Northern Minerals’ three-year R&D pilot plant project is expected to commence first production of heavy rare earth carbonate in H1 2018.
The project has the potential to deliver up to 400 construction and 300 operation jobs over its 11 years life of mine.
Importantly, the T2W initiative could help Northern Minerals achieve its long-term aboriginal employment target of 20%.