Kalbar Operations has applied for a mining licence for its Fingerboards project in Victoria’s Gippsland region, adding to the potential for a mineral sands hub in the state.
The licence cannot be considered until an ongoing Environmental Effects Statement (EES) has concluded which is currently open for public comment.
Earth Resources Regulation executive director Anthony Hurst said Fingerboards was an important consideration, holding potential to be the next big thing in mineral sands mining.
“Under our mining legislation, we must begin the process to assess Kalbar’s mining licence application and we encourage anyone with an interest to make a submission on the specified grounds, including the applicant’s status as being ‘fit and proper’ to hold a licence and their financial capacity to complete their proposed work and rehabilitate the site,” Hurst said.
The application seeks to cover 2148 hectares for 20 years, as Kalbar mines highly valuable rare earths such as zircon, neodymium, praseodymium, dysprosium and terbium.
Assuming the mining licence and EES are approved, a definitive feasibility study would occur in mid-2022, before development and construction occur until mid-2025.
In August 2020, Kalbar chief executive officer Jozsef Patarica said the project would contribute strongly to the world’s demands for years to come.
“The Fingerboards project contains over two million tonnes of zircon at the highest in-ground grades in the world,” Patarica said
“The project has the potential to supply about 10 per cent of the world’s zircon requirements over the 15 to 20-year life of the mine.”
Hurst explained the difference in processes which will allow Kalbar to access the precious resource.
“The environmental assessment process underway will determine whether the mining proposal in the Glenaladale area has acceptable impacts and can proceed or not, while the mining licence application process is an additional legislative mechanism to assess if Kalbar meet criteria to be granted an exclusive right to mine the resource,” Hurst said.
The project was recognised in June by Minerals Council of Australia’s executive director James Sorahan when he acknowledged the potential in the region.
“Victoria’s mineral sands projects, including Kalbar Resources’ Fingerboards HMS project near Bairnsdale, Donald Mineral Sands’ project near Minyip, VHM Limited’s project near Swan Hill and WIM Resources’ Avonbank project near Horsham, have the potential to develop into a global hub for mineral sands (zircon and titanium) and rare earths,” Sorahan said.