​King Island tungsten mine gets greenlight

The Tasmanian Government has approved plans to re-open the closed King Island scheelite and tungsten operations on King Island.

The potential re-opening of the Dolphin mine, at Grassy, was first put forward in November last year.

The mine's re-opening has also had support from the State’s Greens, with Tasmanian Greens leader Nick McKim stating they would support the project as long as the benefits are not overtaken by ecological impacts.

The lease was issued to Australian Tungsten, a subsidiary of King Island Scheelite, who will now start dewatering operations, emptying the open pit which has been closed since 1990.

According to the miner the process should take approximately four months, with a four year plan focused on open cut mining and an eventual progression into underground mining.

It is understood the entire operation falls within the previous mine’s footprint, “and therefore not significantly increase the environmental disturbance at the site,” a governmental release said.

Speaking on the recent approvals Tasmanian resources minister Paul Harriss said The development of a mine and processing facility on King Island would provide a major boost to the local economy and create many new jobs.

Tungsten is used in a range of differing applications in what are known as hard metals, or cemented carbides.

Used in products that require extreme abrasion resistance, the metal is used to make drilling bits, sporting goods, armaments, alloys and cutting tips.

China dominates the global tungsten market in terms of both supply and demand, producing around 86 per cent of the world’s tungsten products and consuming 59 per cent.

King Island Sheelite say the outlook for tungsten is linked to GDP growth.

“While US and European consumption of tungsten has remained fairly static at around 3% per annum for some years, the growth rates of economies such as China, India and other fast developing nations has driven the demand for tungsten up by around 10% per annum.”

It stated that because mine production has been ‘static’ since 2004, a deficit of supply has hit the tungsten market.

It is believed that the re-opening could create 90 new mining jobs.

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