Mine CEO reveals decision date on bauxite mine
THE chief executive of a proposed bauxite mine at Binjour has revealed a decision will be made on whether the mine will proceed will be made by the board of directors on Monday, December 16.
"We didn't want the meeting on Black Friday, so we changed it to Monday," Australian Bauxite Limited (ABx) CEO Ian Levy joked.
The board will visit stakeholders in Binjour, Gayndah and Bundaberg before a decision is made.
If the board ticks off on the project, a Mining Lease Application will be lodged early next year.
Mr Levy described tests results which found the Binjour deposit was the highest quality gibbsite-trihydrate bauxite in eastern Australia as "quite stunning", but warned the mine getting the go-ahead was not a fait accompli.
"If there's any sense that this mine will become an Adani situation, a political hot potato, my sense is the board will walk away," he said.
Another variable for the company is whether its bauxite customer, Tianshan, which is constructing an aluminium smelter in southern China, will be willing to pay extra for the high-grade mineral.
A Monday announcement to the Australian Stock Exchange said that the highest grade bauxite is covered by an overlaying layer of red mudstone that is between 6m - 10m deep.
"This deeper mining will require confidence in strong market support from a customer that
is prepared to pay extra for high-grade bauxite," the announcement said.
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Mr Levy said the company wanted to get its customer "hooked" on this high-grade bauxite, describing it as the "drug pusher's strategy".
If the mine is approved, it will initially aim to supply 0.5 million tonnes of bauxite per annum to Tianshan via its marketing partner Rawmin Mining of India.
Mr Levy said the company believes at this initial level of supply, 45 - 50 jobs could be created, but as the mine scales up to its full production of 1.5 million tonnes per annum, this could rise to as many as 75.
The "inhibiting factor" to this plan, according to the Monday ASX announcement, will be the process of hauling the bauxite to Bundaberg Port, with which ABx has already signed a Memorandum of Understanding.
Mr Levy said there are two bridges between Binjour and Bundaberg which need upgrading in order to haul the bauxite and as production ramps up, there will need to be a steady program of road widenings.
He said he has had positive talks with both the North Burnett Regional Council and the Department of Transport and Main Roads about the company's infrastructure needs.
"There is a genuine need, not just for us but for the agriculture industry, for this corridor to be upgraded," Mr Levy said.