Australian Mines has received a prescribed project status from the Queensland Government for its Sconi cobalt-nickel-scandium operations in Greenvale, North Queensland.
This places Sconi among an elite group of projects, including Rio Tinto’s Amrun bauxite operations, Stanmore Coal’s Isaac Plains coking and thermal coal project and Resolute Mining’s Ravenswood gold mine.
The project status will streamline Sconi’s progress through the final stages of regulatory approvals, fast-tracking its future development.
It enables the coordinator-general, if necessary, to intervene in the approvals process to ensure timely decision making for the project.
According to the Minister for State Development, Manufacturing, Infrastructure and Planning Cameron Dick, Australian Mines had set “a strong mandate” to invest in the region – $500,000 each year for training and skills development for process workers, with youth and Indigenous programs to feature.
Australian Mines committed to a predominantly residential workforce as part of the $1.3 billion project’s bankable feasibility study (BFS) in November last year.
Australian Mines managing director Benjamin Bell was “delighted that [the minister] has formally recognised the regional economic development potential” of the Sconi project.
“The announcement from the minister today is a continuation of the positive engagement and support we have received to date from Premier Annastacia Palaszczuk’s Government,” Bell said.
Australian Mines announced on an ASX statement it had “the sincere target” of allocating 90 per cent of its ongoing operational expenditure to local businesses from the surrounding Charters Towers and Townsville local government areas.
“It’s a very happy new year for North Queensland,” Palaszczuk added. “We’re talking about a project set to create up to 500 jobs during its two-year construction period. And we’ll see more than 300 full-time equivalent jobs for the 18-year operational period.
“I met with the proponents of this project during the trade mission to South Korea last year, and I’m pleased this project is progressing because it means jobs for North Queensland.”
The types of projects considered as potential prescribed projects by the Queensland Government include a project “the minister considers is economically or socially significant to Queensland or the region in which the project is to be undertaken, or affects an environmental interest of Queensland or a region”, the government stated on its website.
Queensland Resources Council chief executive Ian Macfarlane praised the government’s move on Sconi, and urged it to continue unlocking more than $70 billion of resource sector projects in pipeline.