Chinese metal giant links deal

Thursday, 26 April, 2007

by Alison Bevege
NT News

Territory mine forms venture worth $72m

Thirty Chinese dignitaries descended on Darwin yesterday for the signing of an agreement that will inject $72 million into a Territory mining scheme.

Compass Resources' $100 million Browns Oxide project, 100km south of Darwin, is expected to create 150 jobs and is set to start mining by October.

The joint venture will be 50 per cent funded by one of the world's largest metals producers, the China-based Hunan Non-Ferrous Metals Corporation. In return, Hunan will receive 50 per cent of the mine's production.

Hunan chairman He Renchun was accompanied by representatives from the Hunan provincial government and the Chinese embassies in Sydney and Canberra for the signing of the joint-venture agreement with Compass Resources at Parliament House yesterday.

Speaking through a translator, Mr He said he hoped the deal would strengthen co-operation between China and Australia - and also between Hunan province and the NT.

Mr He said the daily operation of the Oxide project would be taken care of by Compass Resources.

Compass chairman Gordon Toll said construction of the project was 80 per cent completed. With a mine life of 10 years, the project is expected to produce 1.3 million tonnes per year of compounds of copper, cobalt and nickel.

But Mr Toll said this project would be dwarfed by the potential of a nearby metal sulphides deposit, which could have a mine life of more than 20 years, create 350 jobs and be worth up to $750 million in expenditure.

A feasibility study for the sulphides project was included in yesterday's joint venture signing. Mr Toll said the study would take about two years to complete, and that environmental assessment would take 'considerable time'.

"There is a legacy of disturbance in the area we want to correct as we mine," he said.

But neither NT Mines Minister Chris Natt nor Mr Toll would be drawn on the specifics of what cleaning up the site of old Rum Jungle uranium mine might cost.

Compass' nearby 14.5 million pound uranium resource was not included in the Hunan joint venture.

Mr Toll said Compass had the capability to develop the uranium on its own. "A lot of people are interested one way or another," he said.

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