China’s Ningxia Tianyuan Manganese Industry (TMI) plans to reopen the Woodie Woodie mine in Western Australia, more than 18 months after it was closed because of low prices.
TMI, which is responding to a significant improvement in manganese prices in 2017, will spend $30 million restarting the Pilbara site.
The company is targeting manganese production of between 1.3-1.5 million tonnes per annum as it moves towards a full-scale operation by October.
Woodie Woodie was previously owned by leading manganese producer Consolidated Minerals (ConsMin), which TMI acquired in May this year.
The restart has already led to the employment of 115 people. Around 300 workers will be required when the mine reaches full production in October.
ConsMin chief executive officer Oleg Sheyko said it was a tough decision to close Woodie Woodie, but at the same time the operation “was simply unviable”.
“We are now confident in the manganese market outlook and with an exploration investment can see Woodie Woodie continuing into the future,” Sheyko said.
“This is a great outcome for ConsMin, the Pilbara region and Western Australia.”
WA Mines and Petroelum Minister Bill Johnston said the reopening of Woodie Woodie was a positive sign for the future of the mining sector.
“The McGowan Government welcomes ConsMin’s significant investment that will provide long-term economic benefits for the state,” Johnston said.
“We are committed to supporting Western Australia’s mining sector and creating jobs.”