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Construction begins at $35.8m metal mine in Far North

Metro Mining Bauxite Hills
Metro Mining Bauxite Hills

Work is starting on a Brisbane exploration company’s  $35.8 million metal project in Far North Queensland, creating more than 300 jobs.

Metro Mining will commence construction of the Bauxite Hills Mine, 95km north of Weipa as early as July 2017.

The project will require 75 construction workers plus 254 operational staff. Mining operations and first shipment are scheduled for April 2018.

The first job is being advertised, and all other employment opportunities will be listed on Seek: seek.com.au/jobs-in-mining-resources-energy?keywords=%22Metro+Mining%22

Contractors will be utilised for a significant proportion of Metro’s planned operations. Any enquiries about human resources or career opportunities to be emailed to Rob Mulholland at rmulholland@metromining.com.au

Metro recently released a bankable feasibility study, confirming the mine would become one of the largest independent operations within the internationally acclaimed Weipa bauxite region. MEC Mining completed the study, supported by a report from commodity research specialists CM Group.

Based on the now combined of Metro and Gulf Alumina projects, the study forecasts enhanced bauxite reserves of 92 million tonnes (Mt) and resources of 145Mt with a 17-year initial mine lifespan.

Basic infrastructure including airstrip, haul roads, camp and port location are already in place.

“Once approvals are finalised we plan to commence mining at 2Mtpa increasing to 6Mtpa over the first four years,” Metro managing director Simon Finnis says.

“Whilst the study has been completed for steady state production of 6Mtpa, environmental approvals should allow production of up to 10Mtpa. We will continue to evaluate the benefits of increasing production as we move through the pre-development and operational phases. The study estimates life-of-mine revenue of $5.7 billion and life-of-mine earnings before interest tax depreciation and amortisation of $2.5bn,” Finnis says.

Total bauxite imports into China are forecast to increase from an estimated 52 million tonnes in 2016, of which 21.3 million tonnes came from Australia, to 136 million tonnes in 2026.

The CM Group report says growth forecasts are driven by continuing solid demand from China’s primary aluminium sector and emerging tightness in China’s domestic bauxite supply. It confirms Metro’s bauxite grades are likely to be attractive to Chinese refiners.

“The study confirms we have a significant, long life, low capital cost and high margin Australian bauxite project,” Finnis says.

Metro has secured a binding offtake agreement with China’s Xinfa Group for 7Mt of bauxite to be delivered over the initial four years of mining. Transhipping, native title and land access agreements were finalised in 2016.

There is potential to extend the mine through conversion of the existing Bauxite Hills resources to reserves, as well as from possible exploration success in the surrounding regional exploration tenements.

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