The Queensland Government has given environmental authority (EA) for Vital Metals’ Watershed tungsten project 160 kilometres northwest of Cairns near Mt Carbine.
The $100 million project will be doubling its workforce to 200 during construction and 120 for operation. It earlier employed 50 people, cairns.com.au reported.
The company said in a statement it got the green light from the Department of Environment and Heritage Protection.
“The issue of the EA is the final step required before the Department of Natural Resources and Mines is able to consider the grant of the mining leases that make up the Watershed project.
“The milestone is a key part in the Vitals’ strategy to advance and develop the project.”
The company also said Watershed was “a major undeveloped tungsten project ranking among the top 10 outside of China”.
“Significantly there is great potential to add to the known mineral resource at Watershed as it is open along strike and at depth to support future growth.”
Managing director Mark Strizek is hopeful the mine will get leases approved by the end of this year or the beginning of 2014.
He added construction could begin by the end of 2014 or early 2015 and production could start 18 months later if it gets financial grants by their Japanese partners, Japan Oil, Gas and Metals National Corporation.
Around 6000 tonnes of concentrate a year valued at $270 million is expected to be sent to Brisbane before being shipped to Japan, the US and then Korea.
Strizek is optimistic of Watershed’s potential since two projects were abandoned in Peru and Korea.
“The fundamentals of the tungsten market look strong with price increases in APT (ammonium paratungstate) being matched by significant new investment in metal production.”
High grade scheelitemineralisation was discovered at Watershed in 2008. Shallow holes were drilled in three areas along the eastern boundary of the deposit.