ECONOMIC BOOST: A price crash in 2015 brought to a halt ilmenite mining, but it will resume in Monto by the end of the year.
ECONOMIC BOOST: A price crash in 2015 brought to a halt ilmenite mining, but it will resume in Monto by the end of the year. George Smith

Goondicum mine on track to reopen

The owners of Monto's Goondicum mine, Melior Resources, have confirmed they plan to resume operations by the end of the year.

Chief executive Mark McCauley said he believes the project will provide a boost to the local economy.

"We will directly employ about 50 personnel, most of whom will come from Monto and the Wide Bay region," Mr McCauley said.

"Additionally, there will be up to 20 jobs created indirectly through contractors.

"I think the town does notice when we're in operation. We're not big enough to change the town, but we do make a genuine contribution."

Goondicum is used primarily for the extraction ilmenite, an industrial mineral used in the production of paints, coatings, inks and plastics.

Its most recent reincarnation in 2015 was short-lived, brought to a halt only months after reopening when a crash in the price of the ilmenite rendered the project financially unviable.

However, Mr McCauley said the long-term prospects of the mine now look promising.

"The price got a lot lower than what we had anticipated, dropping to historic lows and we elected to shut the doors as opposed to keep leaking cash," he said.

"The price has been very strong since early last year, to the point where Goondicum can start production as quickly as possible.

"At the time (we closed) it was trading at $75 to $80 (USD) per tonne and more recently between $170 to $200 (USD) per tonne.

"Our forecasts tell us the ilmenite price will be much more stable for a much longer period of time going forward."

The Canadian-owned firm is close to completing a round of funding for a six month construction phase that's required before the mine can resume operation.

The investment is necessary to make changes to the extraction and refinement process that will improve the efficiency of recovery and product quality

"We are setting the project up to be genuinely financially robust, hence the $7 million in additional capital we're spending to improve operating costs, efficiency, and product quality," he said.

"We've been working on a funding package for quite some time and are hoping to have that finalised shortly.

"If we can start construction in the second quarter of this year, we'll be back in production by the fourth quarter and hopefully have our first shipment away by the end of the year.

"We had some very good employees previously that we would love to have back.

"Creating 50 quite highly-paid local jobs, plus 15 or 20 contractors will have a big impact on the area."



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