Mining set for growth in the Northern Territory

The Ammaroo phosphate project

The Northern Territory is on track to deliver more mining jobs after the Territory Government signed project facilitation agreements for three operations this year.

Verdant Minerals – Ammaroo phosphate project

The government awarded Verdant Minerals’ Ammaroo phosphate operations a major project status and signed a project facilitation agreement (PFA) to progress it through the approvals process.

The $750 million project, located around 180km south east of Tennant Creek, is estimated to provide around 500 jobs during construction and operation.

Verdant Minerals managing director Chris Tziolis told Australian Mining the PFA was an important milestone for the company.

“As we are entering a phase of seeking government approvals, having the government’s support and government resources available to assist with the facilitation of the approvals process will be very valuable,” he said.

Tziolis added that the Ammaroo project will support jobs in the local region and the broader Northern Territory.

“This project is in remote area that will provide an economic boost for local communities through the provision of opportunities for long-term sustainable employment and the development of businesses to support the project,” he said.

Tziolis highlighted that since the project is also aligned with the state’s agricultural sector, it could potentially launch a new fertiliser industry in Australia that could expand and move to downstream production over time.

“This will be a significant economic enabler through the creation of broader fertiliser industry to support Australian agriculture, including that in Northern Australia, and also a supplier of significance to the region,” he said.

Tziolis said the company was aiming to produce phosphate rock concentrate for export to phosphoric acid plants in Asia due to a lack of demand in Australia, which instead imports most of its fertiliser in finished form.

“With respect to Ammaroo phosphate, in the course of time, it is envisaged that significant investments can be made in producing finished fertilisers and replacing imports into Australia,” he said.

“I do believe that the Western Georgina basin can become one of the great phosphate provinces over the course of the next handful of decades. We just need to start.”

All necessary approvals have been sought for the projects, Tziolis added, with environmental approvals, mineral leases and mine management plans to be worked through over the coming 12 months.

Tziolis said the company aims to complete a bankable feasibility study in late 2017 and submit an environmental impact statement by August.

Once approved, NT chief minister Michael Gunner said the company could begin construction by the second half of 2018 and be fully operational by late 2019.

KGL Resources – Jervois copper-silver-gold project

Another project granted a PFA this year was KGL Resources’ Jervois copper-silver-gold project.

Located around 270km northeast of Alice Springs, the $190 million project is expected to create 360 jobs during construction and 300 ongoing jobs once operational, over its more than 12-year life.

The company is also upgrading its resource after exploration found additional mineralisation at higher copper grades, particularly at its Rockface prospect.

Upon the announcement, KGL chairman Denis Wood said, “The confidence that the Northern Territory Government has shown in KGL and the Jervois project, and the cooperation extended to the company in moving towards development at Jervois are greatly appreciated.”

The PFA was signed at the Annual Geoscience Exploration Seminar (AGES) in Alice Springs, the Territory’s major exploration event and chief minister Gunner said, “We recognise the significance and potential the project could provide for the Territory.

“Major Projects create employment opportunities for Territorians and develop new business opportunities within the Territory.”

TNG – Mount Peake vanadium-titanium-iron project

The NT Government also signed a PFA with Australian metals company TNG for the location to develop its TIVAN metals refinery – part of its Mount Peake vanadium-titanium-iron project.

The project is around 230km north of Alice Springs, with the development of the mine and its associated refinery expected to bring more than 1700 construction jobs and 600 ongoing jobs.

The refinery expected to produce 17,560 tonnes of vanadium pentoxide, 236,000 tonnes of titanium dioxide (pigment) and 637,000 tonnes of iron ore for export per year.

TNG also signed a binding heads of agreement with SMS Group for the design, engineering and construction of the TIVAN facility.

“The TIVAN downstream metal refinery is a key component of the overall project production and logistics chain, which will see the application of state-of-the-art processing technology to cost effectively extract high-value vanadium, titanium and iron from the Mt Peake deposit and produce high-purity metals for export,” TNG managing director Paul Burton said.

“The TIVAN refinery is a value-added downstream process which we expect will bring significant economic benefits to Darwin and the Northern Territory and help to enhance the region’s position as the development hub for Northern Australia.”

TNG is conducting an environmental impact statement for the refinery this year, with construction slated for 2018.

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