Australian Mines Limited (ASX:AUZ) jumped 21% to an intra-day high of 4.6 cents on news of the Queensland Government declaring Prescribed Project status for the Sconi Cobalt-Nickel-Scandium Project.
The declaration will assist the company in streamlining the progress of Sconi through the final stages of regulatory approvals and fast-track its future development.
Recognition of benefits
Prescribed Project status is recognition by the State Government of the intended benefits to local, regional and state economies from the $1.4 billion North Queensland project.
Construction of Sconi will generate 500 jobs, while steady-state operations will provide 300 fulltime employment opportunities for the initial 18-year life of the proposed mining and processing operation.
Queensland’s independent Coordinator-General recommended that Minister for State Development, Manufacturing, Infrastructure and Planning Cameron Dick declare Sconi a Prescribed Project.
The Minister endorsed this recommendation to provide coordinated assistance to the company as it finalises development approvals for what has been recognised as a significant mining project for Queensland.
Australian Mines managing director Benjamin Bell said: “I am delighted that Minister Cameron Dick has formally recognised the regional economic development potential of our Sconi project in regional North Queensland with this decision.
“The announcement from the Minister is a continuation of the positive engagement and support we have received to date from Premier Annastacia Palaszczuk’s Government.
“The declaration of Prescribed Project status for Sconi will provide us with coordinated agency support from the State Government as we move into the final stages of our approvals and development pathway for the project.”
Collecting bags of bulk samples from Sconi.
Bell said: “We prepared a Bankable Feasibility Study on Sconi with the sincere target of allocating 90% of the ongoing annual operational expenditure to local businesses from the surrounding Charters Towers and Townsville local government areas.
“In total, the study indicated $922 million of the project’s total capital expenditure was anticipated to be spent with Australian businesses, with a preference for North Queensland companies.
“We have also committed to significant upgrades to local infrastructure in the Greenvale region including upgrading the water supply, regional public roads and Greenvale regional airport as well as the construction of an accommodation village and establishment of a 24/7 medical facility.”
Scandium oxide produced in tests of ore from Sconi.
The project aims to produce nickel, cobalt and scandium for use in battery manufacturing, electric vehicles and similar high technology applications for export markets.
Two million tonnes of ore per annually will be processed producing an estimated annual average of 8,500 tonnes of cobalt, 53,500 tonnes of nickel sulphate and 77 tonnes of scandium oxide for at least 18 years.
Construction is anticipated to start in 2019, with Australian Mines also set to open a regional office in Townsville, Charters Towers or Greenvale.
Queensland Premier Palaszczuk said: “It’s a very happy new year for North Queensland.
“We’re talking about a project set to create up to 500 jobs during its two-year construction period. And we’ll see more than 300 full-time equivalent jobs for the 18-year operational period.
“I met with the proponents of this project during the trade mission to South Korea last year and I’m pleased this project is progressing because it means jobs for North Queensland.”