Proposed bauxite mine clears major hurdle
NORTH Burnett is burnishing its reputation as a significant mining region with the announcement a planned bauxite mine at Binjour has cleared a key hurdle.
A memorandum of understanding has been signed between Australian Bauxite Limited and China's Tianshan Aluminium, meaning if the mine proceeds, it has a guaranteed customer for its bauxite.
At full production, the memorandum is for the delivery of more than 1 million tonnes of bauxite.
According to CEO Ian Levy, the mine would directly employ 55 people.
"We will only employ locally," he said.
He also described the possibility of a "boost" for the nearby town of Gayndah via indirect "multiplier" benefits.
Mr Levy said Tianshin was the "right customer".
"We needed to search the world for the support of a foundation customer, which involved 10 site visits," he said.
Tianshin is in the process of constructing a low-temperature refinery in southern China.
The bauxite at Binjour is chemically well-suited to this type of processing, melting at about 140 degrees.
By comparison, the bauxite at Weipa won't melt until about 250 degrees, Mr Levy said.
He said another key milestone for the mine, securing an agreement with the Port of Bundaberg, was "very well advanced".
"The relationship is excellent," he added.
Australian Bauxite Limited initially discovered the deposit in 2011-12.
By 2013, Mr Levy said, they had produced "one thousand drill holes" to determine where the most productive site for a potential mine would be.
Since then, they have been in negotiation with North Burnett and Bundaberg regional councils and the State Government to investigate "all possible transport options," as well as local landholders.
Has there been any resistance to his company's plans in Binjour?
"Not resistance, guidance," Mr Levy said.
The next step for the mine, after finalising terms with the Port of Bundaberg, is to drill a trial pit which, according to the the memorandum of understanding, would have a diameter of 162 metres.
This trial site would help inform such decisions as mining techniques and which equipment will be used, as well as giving indications of likely dust measurements and other environmental considerations.
Assuming the success of the trial mine, the company hopes to apply for a mining lease at the end of 2019.
Mr Levy said initial indications were that the mine could be a "20-year project."
He said there were "perhaps 30 moving parts" which needed to align when constructing a mine.
"Piece by piece the jigsaw has fallen into place," Mr Levy said.
North Burnett Regional Council has been contacted for comment.