The South Australian Government has granted two key approvals to Iron Road that will clear the way for the development of the Center Eyre iron ore project (CEIP), a $4.5 billion project that would be the largest magnetite mine in Australia if developed.
The SA Government granted the mining lease and development approval for the project that is estimated to produce 21.5 Mt/a (23.7 million stpy).
The project includes a deep water port at Cape Hardy and a 145 km (90 mile) rail link. The port will also be used for other goods that can benefit South Australia.
Australian Mining reported that construction of the project could create an estimated 2,000 jobs and 700 jobs during operations over the 25-year life of mine.
In September 2016, the rail and port components of the project were declared a priority project by Infrastructure Australia. In April, three Chinese banks indicated their interest in helping finance the project.
The company’s progress at Central Eyre has also been backed by its strategic partner, China Railway Group.
Iron Road managing director Andrew Stocks said he was delighted to receive the two primary South Australian approvals for the Central Eyre project.
“The CEIP will employ approximately 1,950 people during construction and 700 during operations, all located on the Eyre Peninsula, in addition to the workforce required in the Adelaide head office,” Stocks said in a statement.
“The approvals we have received are a direct recognition by the South Australian Government of these and other significant direct benefits for the state.
“We are now looking forward to the next stage of our development journey which will include further engagement with stakeholders, preparing our secondary approval applications, reaching a final investment decision together with CREC and ultimately achieving financial close.”
The only remaining primary government approval for the project is under the Commonwealth environmental legislation, with a decision expected to be announced within weeks, according to Iron Road.
The Adelaide-based company is seeking to secure the remaining financing for the project by December 2017.
CREC senior representative for the project, Cai Zemin, said the latest milestone demonstrated “the strong joint commitment of CREC, Iron Road and the South Australian Government to the construction and operation of Australia’s next major mining and infrastructure project.”
Approvals for the mine, rail line, port and associated infrastructure were based on assessment of an environmental impact statement, a mining lease proposal, 105 submissions from the community and other stakeholders and the company’s response to the issues these raised.
The project has the potential to increase production in line with the SA Government’s magnetite strategy aim of exporting 50 Mt/a (55 million stpy) by 2020.
The proposed deep-water port and heavy haulage railway will be a first for South Australia and are expected to provide a profound improvement on the Eyre Peninsula’s existing infrastructure base.