A new mine located near Fifield is getting closer to development and it’s expecting to bring a massive boost to Parkes and its neighbours in more ways than one.
The project, called Clean TeQ Sunrise, is owned and will be operated by global leader in metals recovery and industrial water treatment, Clean TeQ – a listed Australian company.
Clean TeQ Sunrise is one of the largest greenfield mineral processing development projects in Australia, one of the largest nickel and cobalt deposits outside of Africa, and one of the largest and highest-grade deposits of scandium in the world.
It will be an open cut, low-risk mine with a project area of about 2200 hectares and a shallow deposit that’s about two kilometres long and 30-35 metres deep.
And it’s all located within 32 kilometres of Trundle and Tullamore; 60 kilometres of Bogan Gate and Condobolin; 100 kilometres of Parkes, Peak Hill and Forbes; and 160 kilometres of Dubbo.
On Monday the Clean TeQ Sunrise’s Definitive Feasibility Study was completed and the results released.
The study confirms the project’s status as a globally significant cobalt, nickel and scandium resource which, once developed, will become a major supplier of critical raw materials to the lithium-ion battery market.
Lithium-ion batteries represent an important enabler of the clean energy revolution, such as resourcing the development of the rapidly emerging electric vehicle industry.
The major benefit to regional NSW is the creation of hundreds of direct and indirect jobs through the construction and operations phase.
Clean TeQ’s Chief Executive Officer Sam Riggall – who’s been visiting the region regularly over a number of months – said financial boosts for local, regional and national stakeholders will come in the form of taxes ($2.2 billion over the initial 25 years of the mine), royalties ($630 million), council rates, upgrades to local infrastructure, community enhancement contributions and other community initiatives.
“There will be an enormous amount of work for contractors and local businesses here,” he said.
“The sustaining capital requirements of business and annual operating costs of running it, a lot of it will be spent locally.
“We don’t have the numbers yet but I would be surprised if you’re not looking at somewhere around $100 million of local spend.
“Then there’s the impacts of training and employment opportunities, I think the regional focus on that is really important.”
The project has an estimated mine life of more than 40 years and construction – in total costing about $1.7 billion – is expected to start in 2019, with some early works to take place before then.
Clean TeQ is looking at a peak construction workforce of 1000 people and an operations workforce of 300 people.
The early works will involve installing a $35 million 70 kilometre pipeline from near the Lachlan River to the mine’s site, earthworks and laying the foundations for a construction camp that will house up to 1300 people seven days a week.
The camp will be complete with gym and dining facilities and its operation itself may create as many as 100 jobs.
It’s predicted the mine will use 3154 mega litres of water a year.
There are also plans to build a rail site just outside of Trundle.
And Clean TeQ is aiming to establish a state-of-the-art operating centre in Parkes, which will cover the day-to-day delivery, planning and development of the project.
“We don’t have to build an operating centre in Parkes, most mines actually put their operating centre onsite and it’s probably more cost effective up front to do that,” Mr Riggall said.
“But we actually see a great opportunity to put an operating centre in a centre like Parkes where you can bring high value jobs in.
“We expect a lot of technical roles to sit in that operations centre.”
But Mr Riggall said there are challenges to building the centre regionally.
“One of the challenges when thinking about locating it is can we bring a skilled enough workforce to a place like Central NSW, be it Parkes or Forbes or Condobolin,” he said.
“I think we can.
“We’ve been under a lot of pressure to put this operations centre on the east coast – the difference between being 100 kilometres away or 400 kilometres away isn’t that different when you set up remotely.
“It would be easy to put it on the east coast but we made a conscious decision, we wanted to bring these jobs locally.”
For now, the office in Parkes is located in the old stationery shop in Clarinda Street.
It’s estimated there will eventually be about 100 jobs in the operations centre but Clean TeQ predicts it will be a slow-growing workforce.
A permanent site for the centre has not been confirmed as yet.
Mr Riggall also said Parkes having the Inland Rail, its National Logistics Hub and an airport will be huge benefits to Clean TeQ Sunrise.
Clean TeQ has been conducting community consultations since August 2017 and has community shopfronts in Trundle and Condobolin.
The office in Condobolin has had a recent fit-out and was the location for a meeting held by the company’s Chief Financial Officer with local shareholders.
While there’s been a mix of supporters of the project and concerned or curious residents, Mr Riggall said there will be challenges the team needs to solve.
When it comes to transport, Clean TeQ is investigating ways to transport workers to and from the site, floating ideas of a bus that could benefit residents as well.
In a formal ‘in principle’ agreement with the Parkes, Forbes and Lachlan councils, Clean TeQ has already committed to upgrading and maintaining the roads it will use, with an annual spend of about $340,000 on road maintenance.
Telecommunications will be greatly enhanced around the project area, also to the benefit of local residents.
Mr Riggall’s goal is to have the majority of workers residing in local communities, as opposed to fly-in fly-out staff, but admitted Clean TeQ couldn’t dictate where people lived.
He said their goal is to keep talking to people regionally in the Parkes, Forbes and Condobolin communities as much as possible.
“We are committed to working together with our host communities as we seek to maximise the benefits of our presence, manage any impacts through leading environmental practices and show respect and care for people as we go about our business,” Mr Riggall said.
“As the project moves through the various horizons of development, we look forward to tapping into local talent and businesses.
“We have already received strong expressions of interest from individuals and businesses across Central West NSW who would like to be involved in Clean TeQ Sunrise.
“Having our people living in and contributing to a strong and vibrant local community is a priority.”
Clean TeQ will be hosting a series of regional information sessions on employment opportunities next week.
The sessions will take place at the Condobolin Clean TeQ office on July 2, Forbes Services Memorial Club on July 3, Trundle Golf Club on July 4 and Parkes Leagues Club on July 5.
Clean TeQ forecasts over the first decade the project will produce high quality nickel sulphate and cobalt sulphate products in sufficient quantities to manufacture about 500,000 electric vehicles per year.
And over 25 years, it will produce two million tonnes of nickel sulphate and 400,000 tonnes of cobalt sulphate.
Clean TeQ’s board will be asked to give the final green light early in 2019, after which people will be on ground and the camp will open.