Dig­ging in for pos­ter­ity

Townsville Bulletin - - NEWS - TONY RAGGATT

TOWNSVILLE busi­ness lead­ers have wel­comed the ap­proval of a re­vised de­vel­op­ment plan for a bil­lion­dol­lar zinc mine pro­ject in north­west Queens­land, de­scrib­ing it as a much­needed shot in the arm for the min­ing in­dus­try and re­gion’s econ­omy.

The mine, be­ing de­vel­oped by Chi­nese- backed MMG Ltd at Du­gald River near Clon­curry, will re­quire an es­ti­mated $ US750 mil­lion ($ 1.04 bil­lion) in­vest­ment into a range of min­ing in­fra­struc­ture and ser­vices, in­clud­ing a per­ma­nent 350- per­son vil­lage. Townsville En­ter­prise gen­eral man­ager eco­nomic de­vel­op­ment Tracey Lines said in­vest­ments of this mag­ni­tude were cat­alytic for the de­vel­op­ment of north­ern Aus­tralia and crit­i­cal for the growth and pros­per­ity of the re­gion.

“For this de­ci­sion to be made at this point in the com­mod­ity cy­cle shows that in­vestors have con­fi­dence in the fu­ture of the north Queens­land re­gion,” Ms Lines said.

“This type of large- scale in­vest­ment brings de­vel­op­ment and em­ploy­ment which flows through the econ­omy.” Ms Lines said it came on the back of Queens­land In­vest­ment Cor­po­ra­tion’s $ 130 mil­lion pur­chase of Do­main Cen­tral shop­ping precinct at Mount Louisa and the Sichuan Rail­way in­vest­ment group’s $ 200 mil­lion in­vest­ment into Al­tona’s Lit­tle Eva mine pro­ject north of Mount Isa. Townsville Port chair­man Pat Brady said it was a shot in the arm needed by the min­ing sec­tor and for peo­ple in the cor­ri­dor be­tween Mount Isa and Townsville who have been do­ing it tough.

The mine will have a pro­duc­tion rate of 1.5 mil­lion tonnes per an­num, pro­duc­ing on 160,000 tonnes of zinc in con­cen­trate per an­num, as well as 18,000 tonnes of lead and 981,000 oz of sil­ver in con­cen­trate per an­num.

MMG says mine clo­sures and few re­place­ment projects are cre­at­ing a zinc sup­ply gap which is forecast to boost the gal­vanis­ing me­tal’s price 50 per cent to about US$ 1.50 a pound over the next year.

The main pro­ject scope in­cludes the ramp up to the 1.5 mil­lion tonne pro­duc­tion rate, the de­vel­op­ment of a 500,000- tonne stock­pile, a con­cen­tra­tor and as­so­ci­ated in­fra­struc­ture, a paste plant, min­ing in­fra­struc­ture and ser­vices, off­site in­fra­struc­ture in­clud­ing high- volt­age trans­mis­sion line and sub­sta­tion, mo­bile plant and equip­ment, a per­ma­nent 350- per­son vil­lage and on- site ser­vices and util­i­ties. Con­cen­trates will be loaded into con­tain­ers on site, trucked 65km to Clon­curry and then railed to Townsville for ship­ping. The de­vel­op­ment is con­di­tional on an amended En­vi­ron­men­tal Au­thor­ity, a re­vised clas­si­fi­ca­tion of the mine’s tail­ings stor­age fa­cil­ity and ap­proval for ship­ping from Townsville port.

Pre- pro­duc­tion mine de­vel­op­ment will start this year. First pro­duc­tion is ex­pected in the first half of 2018.

IN­VESTOR CON­FI­DENCE: Pre- pro­duc­tion mine de­vel­op­ment at Du­gald River, near Clon­curry, will start this year.

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