The man in charge of the yet-to-be-financed Dubbo Project says it has "lots of momentum" and in the future will need up to 280 full-time workers at Toongi.
In Dubbo this week for meetings, managing director of Australian Strategic Materials (ASM) David Woodall said open-pit mining and a processing plant at the project's Toongi site would absorb the production phase workers.
He said the site's metal plant, chlor-alkali plant and renewable power plant, the latter owned by a third party, would also "need people".
The Dubbo Project is based on an in-ground polymetallic resource of rare earths, zirconium, niobium, hafnium, tantalum and yttrium at Toongi, 25 kilometres south of Dubbo.
ASM plans to establish a total of three metal plants in South Korea, North American and Australia, with Toongi being the "logical" site.
It has resolved not to "dig and ship" as the world develops technology not dependent on fossil fuels and the demand for rare earths subsequently grows.
Mr Woodall said buyers of oxides demanded discounts.
"Instead of producing an oxide that goes to a third party and ultimately will go into China for further treatment, ours will go direct to our own metal plant and to the customer," he said.
A start to the construction of the South Korean metal plant is scheduled for mid-2022.
Mr Woodall said the rare earths at Toongi would likely go to the South Korean plant.
"Dubbo can supply 50 per cent of South Korea's rare earth needs as it is now," he said.
The ASM boss said South Korea "imports all its products" and has a large manufacturing base.
"So you've got the likes of Hyundai Motors talking about producing a million electric cars a year by 2025 but they don't have a certain supply of rare earth metals because they all come from China," he said.
"So along comes a small Australian company that says it can produce metal and 'here's a couple of samples of what we can do'. They are saying 'okay this is a solution'."
Dubbo Project has all major approvals and licences in place.
On Tuesday Mr Woodall said the shovel-ready project was the focus of ongoing talks with potential investors.
"We are looking to sell 20 per cent of Dubbo as part of that," he said.
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