GR Engineering wins $366m contract at Sheffield mineral sands project

Sheffield Resources has awarded a $366.3 million mineral sands contract to GR Engineering Services.

GR Engineering will be responsible for the engineering design, procurement and construction (EPC) of Thunderbird mineral sands project’s 7.5 million tonnes a year (Mt/y) mineral processing plant and associated facilities.

The contract’s scope of work extends to the commissioning and testing of Thunderbird’s wet concentrate plant, mineral separation plant, low temperature roasting plant, administration buildings, bore fields and high voltage power distribution.

This represents a two-year agreement, following site mobilisation, and is scheduled to commence in the second quarter of 2019 after the wet season. A six-month operations support will also be provided to Thunderbird post-completion.

GR Engineering managing director Geoff Jones said, “This contract represents an important milestone in the development of the world-class Thunderbird mineral sands project.

“GR Engineering has welcomed the opportunity to contribute towards bringing the project to an advanced pre-execution phase and is now committed to progressing its safe and successful delivery for Sheffield.”

The new contract will allow GR Engineering to resume its early work as Thunderbird’s preferred tenderer in October last year.

GR Engineering will launch work as soon as Sheffield fulfills its remaining financing conditions.

Sheffield Resources has also secured a $240 million seven-year loan from Taurus Funds that will be used to reduce the miner’s operating costs by at least $7.5 million every year over a 42-year life of mine.

Bruce McFadzean, Sheffield managing director, said, “These agreements are a tremendous result for Sheffield shareholders as they substantially de-risk Thunderbird and put the company in a strong position to move into construction.

“Thunderbird has now secured $335 million of loan facilities to enable the project to proceed, including long tenor infrastructure loans from the federal government.”

The $240 million facility is made up of a $95 million federal government funding support through the Northern Australia Infrastructure Facility (NAIF) loan facilities, as well as a $30 million project development and a $65 million infrastructure development facilities.

“Securing the loan facilities, combined with finalisation of the fixed price, lump sum EPC contract, in conjunction with completion of permitting, collectively build on the recent milestones achieved by Sheffield and pave the way for construction of Thunderbird to commence in the new year, following the wet season,” McFadzean said.