PERTH (miningweekly.com) – Deputy Premier of Western Australia Roger Cook has ratified a A$160-million Northern Australian Infrastructure Facility (NAIF) loan facility for the development of the Thunderbird mineral sands project.
ASX-listed Sheffield Resources said on Thursday that the loan facility documentation had been executed by the government of Western Australia, providing a key step forward for the development of the project.
“Sheffield wishes to thank and acknowledge the welcome support of the Western Australian government for Thunderbird and the establishment of a leading new mineral sands project that will deliver significant economic benefits for the people of the Kimberley region,” said Sheffield executive chairperson Bruce Griffin.
“In partnership with our joint venture partner Yansteel, we look forward to providing employment opportunities to many more local Kimberley residents and those in the wider Western Australian community.”
In conjunction with third-party project financing being sourced by Kimberley Mineral Sands, the execution of the NAIF loan documentation is one of the remaining steps to enable Kimberley Mineral Sands to achieve financial close and use the loan facilities, which is expected over the coming months.
A recently released bankable feasibility study (BFS) into the Thunderbird project simplified the process flowsheet, which resulted in lower capital costs and reduced margins, and estimated a mine life of 36 years with average sales of 1.42-million tonnes a year of mineral sands.
The new BFS estimated a capital requirement of A$361-million for the Stage 1 operation, which would have a process rate of 1 085 t/h, with total funding requirements for Stage 1 estimated at A$484-million.
The new BFS compared with a 2019 study which estimated an initial capital cost of A$392-million and total funding requirements of A$478-million for the same throughput rate, with mine life estimated at 37 years.