RZ Resources explores, discovers and mines a swathe of critical minerals across the Southwest of New South Wales, Australia. Chief Operating Officer, John Costigan explores the spirit of ingenuity and sustainable responsibility alongside aspirations for vast future growth.
UNEARTHING ELEMENTAL DISCOVERY
The market for rare earth elements and critical minerals is growing exponentially in order to address the increasing demand for products and the pressing global need to drive a more sustainable future.
In Australia, the government understands the importance of critical minerals, including rare earths, and is actively supporting businesses that are entering this swiftly expanding sector.
As investors seek alternatives to the fossil fuel sectors, they see immense value in the long-term opportunities presented by the critical minerals sector.
Perfectly positioned to capitalise on such possibilities is RZ Resources, a 100 percent Australian-owned emerging critical minerals producer that is focused on being a highly responsible company, mining and producing critical minerals and rare earths in the far south-western corner of New South Wales (NSW).
“We are seeing longer-term forecasts for an increasing gap between supply and demand and there is a global focus and demand from consumers for companies to prioritise environmental, social and governance (ESG). RZ Resources understands how important ESG, diversity, equity, and inclusion is to its business strategy,” says John Costigan, recently appointed Chief Operating Officer of RZ Resources.
RZ Resources has an impressive portfolio of 10 tenements, including the flagship Copi Project, for an exploration area totalling 3,362 km2 in the mineral sands-rich region of NSW.
Growing up in regional Queensland, Costigan began forging a curiosity from an early age for all things mechanical while he and his brothers dismantled and reassembled old motorcycles. Heavily influenced by his father, his enthusiasm for science and engineering continued to grow, leading to a hugely varied career path.
“I’ve been fortunate in my career to work in technical and leadership roles in varied industries including petroleum, animal health, agricultural chemicals, minerals processing as well as mining. This variety has provided me with core skills and knowledge, allowing me to navigate a career with confidence in more senior roles later in my career,” he describes. “It’s through some hard learned lessons, that I became an advocate of embedding ESG, sustainable development, Indigenous economic empowerment and community relations. I was previously working at another sand mine in Queensland when it lost its social licence to operate, and it became obvious to me that a company needed to be trusted to resolve issues effectively with the support of its community if it was going to have a whole-of-mine life.
FLAGSHIP COPI PROJECT
As demand for high quality mineral sands, specifically rutile, zircon and titanium, and rare earth elements continues to increase, RZ Resources has positioned itself optimally to deliver the Copi Project – an undertaking that has the potential to be both company and industry defining.
The Copi Mine is a globally significant resource and will help underpin the growth of Australia’s critical mineral and rare earths industry. Once operational, the Copi Mine will be one of Australia’s largest mineral sands mines developed in recent decades. RZ Resources recently predicted the site to generate more than 16 megatonnes (mt) of export materials to global customers over the life of mine. With the project well underway and production expected to commence on schedule in 2026, subject to regulatory approvals, it will generate jobs for the local communities of far southwestern NSW, bringing growth and prosperity to the region.
We believe that our capability to supply final products to the market, by processing the Heavy Mineral Concentrate from the Copi Mine at our Mineral Separation Plant in Brisbane, Queensland, as a significant strategic advantage for our company.
“From this flagship project, the company will leverage the expertise and infrastructure built to further mining opportunities and as we grow our understanding of the battery minerals and rare earth minerals sector, RZ Resources will look for downstream opportunities in that space,” Costigan elaborates.
SOURCING A WINNING TEAM
At the centre of the company’s people-first culture, RZ Resources maintains a deep commitment to zero harm and providing a safe environment for all employees, subcontractors, visitors, and members of the public.
“We believe our greatest strength is our people and we know that with the right team, we will deliver one of the world’s most significant critical mineral and rare earth resources projects in Australia,” details Costigan.
“At RZ Resources, we are guided by openness, honesty and two-way communication, and strive to establish a workplace where our people are empowered to live our values every day,” he continues.
There is a labour shortage in the market at present and due to the specialist nature of the industry, the greatest challenge facing the company lies in recruiting the right people with the correct skillset in a market that is perilously declining in the quantity of skilled labour.
As the company continues to grow, finding professionals is becoming even more of a key priority and the wish list includes mining professionals, technicians, operations and maintenance specialists, and earthworks professionals.
“We are building a team of industry experts, who have built mines before and have decades of experience running significant operations of this scope and size. By embedding ESG outcomes into the company’s agenda we have provided a real sense of purpose for our team,” Costigan notes.
Another key relationship that must be nurtured and developed over time, integral to every business, is that of the various components which compile to form a successful supply chain.
“Key suppliers at present include our partnering consultants who have been selected for their technical expertise, shared values and cultural alignment. We prefer to work in partnership with our suppliers and customers to produce mutually beneficial outcomes, so if they are successful, then we are,” Costigan lays out.
RZ Resources continues to see strong demand for the high-quality critical minerals and mineral sands to be produced at the Copi Mine. Because of this, its partners and suppliers are critical to the success of every intricate rung of the entire business, and the company takes great pride in the relationships that it has built and continues to build.
“As we pursue an offtake strategy, we expect critical minerals demand will translate into additional agreements,” he tells us.
AN AMBITIOUS AND RESPONSIBLE FUTURE
Ambitious plans for the future of the company are already in motion, as RZ Resources has developed a growth strategy to deliver jobs and economic benefits to the local community, alongside significant value to its shareholders.
“As demand increases for our sustainable and high quality critical minerals, including rutile, zircon and rare earths, RZ Resources is well-positioned to play its part in the global economy and deliver critical minerals and rare earths to customers worldwide from mid-2026,” Costigan acclaims.
From the outset, the RZ Resources team has built a long-term, responsible business, committed to sustainable mining practices and focused unwaveringly on delivering value to the local communities and to shareholders. An important part of maintaining this shared responsibility is ensuring the practices of First Nations peoples are respected during the construction and operation of new projects and that culturally significant sites are cared for jointly through the development of a Cultural Heritage Management Plan with Traditional Owners.
“We understand that our social licence to operate is a privilege that is earned from the community and have committed to undertaking ongoing consultations that will actively identify and mitigate any emerging issues during the project’s life. Additionally, the company is committed to providing communication openly, honestly and in a timely manner with all stakeholders,” he adds.
A prime example of this responsible process is RZ Resources’ work on the previously mentioned Copi Project, including negotiations with Traditional Owners, the wider farming community and local towns such as Wentworth and Broken Hill.
Similarly, at RZ Resources, the entire company remains guided by openness, honesty and two-way communication, whilst striving to establish a workplace where its people are empowered to live a specific set of shared values every day.
“RZ Resources is an equal opportunity employer with a commitment to diversity and inclusivity and we encourage professionals from all backgrounds to apply for jobs at the company. Our vision is to embed the principles of diversity, equity, and inclusiveness in our business from the start to help make us an employer of choice for our future workforce,” finishes Costigan proudly.