Western Desert Resources has signed an MOU with Xstrata Zinc to investigate the feasibility of using Xstrata’s Bing Bong port in the Northern Territory.
The miner would use the port facility to ship ore from its Roper Bar iron ore project.
According to Western, "shipping through the established facility would reduce the immediate requirement for investment in new pipeline infrastructure previously proposed as a transport option to Maria Island.
Capital expenditure would also drop by around $50 per annualised tonne of iron ore.
If granted access, Western Desert would build around 160 kilometres of access road from the project to Bing Bong.
The three moth feasibility study will also investigate whether the port will be able to meet the additional 2.5 to 3 million tonnes passing through annually.
Western’s managing director Norm Gardener stated that this MOU "could be the single most important development for the company since finding this project, accessing an established loading facility would be a significant step in our transition from explorer to producer".
Infrastructure is one of the major problems facing miners in the Northern Territory, especially as mining represents nearly a quarter of the region’s gross state production.
In a recent submission to the Territory Government by the Northern Territory Resources Council (NTRC), it outlined the need to rapidly develop and upgrade the port bulk loading facilities, increase the capacity of the Adelaide to Darwin railway and to investigate the feasibility of an Mt Isa to Tennant Creek rail link, and the role of the Government in making this happen by 2030.
Speaking to Australian Mining, NTRC chief executive Scott Perkins said “it is a fact that the lack of decent infrastructure in the Northern Territory is a serious inhibitor to the development of mining in the region.
“The resources industry needs supporting infrastructure and a view beyond merely producing bulk ore for export,” Perkins added.