South Australia is edging ever closer to the start of a major iron ore mine, with a number of agreements signed to enable further development of the Central Eyre Iron Project (CEIP).
Despite the severe commodity price downturn over the past 12 months, Iron Road Limited has continued negotiations leading to several Memorandums of Understanding and an indigenous land use agreement being signed this afternoon.
A deal for infrastructure funding was signed this afternoon with AIXI Investments managing director Christopher Camarsh, which will support construction of a deep sea port at Cape Hardy suited for Capesize vessels, as well as an infrastructure corridor for rail, water and power.
Iron Road managing director Andrew Stocks also signed an Indigenous Land Use Agreement with Barngarla Aboriginal Corporation chair Elliot McNamara, SA Native Title Services and the Attorney General of SA, setting out all commitments in relation to native title and Aboriginal heritage during construction, operation, and closure of tenements.
“Iron Road’s commitment to establishing and maintaining relationships with key stakeholder groups on the Eyre Peninsula has taken a further step with the signing of the various documents today,” Stocks said.
MoUs were also signed with the Wudinna District Council, District Council of Cleve, and four Eyre Peninsula peak bodies for community and environmental outcomes.
Stocks said there was potential for funding from international pension funds that would enable construction of the CEIP.
“Pension funds are seeking long term stable sources of return, and we believe the CEIP infrastructure more than fits the bill,” Stocks said.
“Funding by international pension funds will also support us in our commitment to allow third party access to the CEIP infrastructure, including local grain exports.”
Last year Stocks said the costing for the project was based on $112 per tonne spot price, but costings had since changed as the company conducted a study to optimise costs.
“We’ve been running an optimisation study reviewing everything we did for the definitive feasibility study, to look were where could reduce delivery risk, increase flexibility in process and operation, and looking at costs," Stocks said.
"We can’t control the price of iron ore, but within reason we can control our costs, so we’re just about at the end of that process.
"I don’t expect to see the capital cost change much but I expect to see a reduction of mining costs coming out of that study.
Stocks said that if the mine were in operation today, the operation would be capable of running at a profit, with costing in the definitive feasibility study predicting just above $44 per tonne.
"The main issue is ensuring we are covering the covenants that the debt consortium placed on us, that’s the most important thing."
Stocks said the company would have the optimisation study complete next month.