Australian Mines has undertaken trial mining for scandium, cobalt and nickel for its Sconi project at Greenvale 220km northwest of Townsville.
Australian Mines has undertaken trial mining for scandium, cobalt and nickel for its Sconi project at Greenvale 220km northwest of Townsville.

What $1.3b mining project will mean for town

THE proposed development of a $1.3 billion nickel, cobalt and scandium operation at Greenvale has been welcomed by Charters Towers Mayor Liz Schmidt.

The operation, involving open cut mines and a processing plant on the old Greenvale mine site, is the venture of listed company Australian Mines Ltd which hopes to begin construction mid next year.

The area is within the Charters Towers Regional Council which also manages the Greenvale community's water and sewerage infrastructure bequeathed to the council when nickel mining closed in the town in 1993.

About 140 people now live in Greenvale which once supported a population of about 3000.

Cr Schmidt said the development was an exciting one for Greenvale with the potential for the operations to support the town's services such as its school, hotel and shops.

"It's exciting times for us. Any economic development for our community is a good thing. Hopefully we can advance the Greenvale community," Cr Schmidt said.

"Any influx of people into our community with the school and shops in that area would be amazing."

Australian Mines released the Sconi project's bankable feasibility study on Tuesday showing the plan to develop three open cut pits and a two million tonne per annum processing plant, producing nickel and cobalt sulphate and scandium oxide, was commercially viable.

The study, prepared by engineering and construction firm Ausenco, found an operation producing up to 60,000 of nickel sulphate, 12,000 tonnes of cobalt sulphate and 89 tonnes of scandium oxide, would produce revenues of US$512 million ($711 million) per year with a project pay-off period of 5.2 years.

About 500 people would be employed during construction and 300 people once operational in 2021.

The company says about 80 per cent of the operational workforce will be sourced from Greenvale and Charters Towers with some limited fly-in fly-out support from Townsville.

Australian Mines is negotiating with financiers in Australia, the US and UK and has appointed former Fortescue finance manager Marcus Hughes as chief financial officer.

UK-based Medea Capital Partners has been appointed to secure project funding.

A syndicate of six to eight lenders, including the Federal Government's Northern Australia Infrastructure Facility, is being sought for debt funding, while offtake customer Korea's SK Innovation is expected to take up a 20 per cent stake in the company.