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Alkane Resources has inched another step closer to developing one of the world’s largest zirconium resources after releasing results of a definitive feasibility study on its deposit near Dubbo.
The study modelled the mine at 400,000 tonnes per annum, but said a figure closer to 1mtpa would be more likely, which would give the project a net value of $1.2 billion.
Alkane first picked up the project in 1989 but only got serious about its viability in 1999.
The expected returns from the project have been greatly inflated over recent years following the surge in commodities prices.
Alkane said it had moved the project into the financing stage, and was considering selling a maximum ten per cent share in the project to a strategic partner.
About 25 to 35 per cent of the mine’s revenue is planned to come from zirconium, with the rest being niobium and a combination of light and heavy rare earths.
Each of the minerals is in increasingly high demand, with China and Japan declaring zirconium a strategic metal.
The company said in a statement the next step for the project’s development would be gaining environmental approval, which it expected to be a difficult process.
“The project approval process is the most difficult schedule to predict, and delays to this process have the capacity to extend the project’s development timetable beyond what is currently anticipated,” it said.