A new salt mine in the Northern Territory will open up 360 new jobs near Alice Springs when construction begins in 2017.
Tuesday saw positive confirmation for the Chandler project, 120km south of Alice Springs, when mining company Tellus Holdings signed off on a $120 million contract for mining machinery, NT News reported.
The $464 million project will have an Aboriginal employment target of 10 per cent, as well as a training program to train indigenous locals with a view to exceeding the 10 per cent target.
Workers are expected to travel drive-in drive-out from Alice Springs, however accommodation will also be available at site.
The Chandler mine has an expected life of 25 years, with an operational staff of 180, although it will take three years to clear 790 metres of overburden to reach the minable salt beds, which will be mined using room and pillar design with a continuous miner.
The project area was originally drilled for oil and gas exploration, and is only 32km from the Adelaide-Darwin rail line.
The salt mined will be commercial grade halite, which will be sent to Darwin by rail, and then shipped to Asian countries for use as edible salt, industrial salt, as well as other minerals for dust suppressant and fertiliser.
Empty mine shafts have been slated for sale as space for storage of waste and minerals from mining, oil and gas, government and other industrial sectors, however agreement with traditional owners prevents disposal of radioactive waste or byproducts.
First storage sales are anticipated in Q3 2016, while sale of salt will not commence until the end of 2018.
Tellus has also flagged complimentary businesses that will tie into the mine, such as a renewable energy power station, and salt mine tourism and salt-related microbusinesses.