Plans progress on Siviour graphite mine

BIG PLANS: Renascor managing director at the Siviour deposit, where geotechnical drilling is underway.
BIG PLANS: Renascor managing director at the Siviour deposit, where geotechnical drilling is underway.

A definitive feasibility study into a potential graphite mine at Arno Bay is set to be finished in the next quarter, progressing a plan that could see more than 100 jobs brought to the coastal town.

Mineral exploration company Renascor have been investigating the Siviour graphite deposit for two years, and the company believes it could be the fifth largest reported reserve in the world.

Renascor believes mining the reserve would be cost effective because the deposit is large and shallow, therefore easier to extract.

The project could produce up to 142,000 tonnes per year, with graphite demand increasing globally through the use of the mineral in lithium ion batteries for mobile phones.

The company plans to start with a small scale operation, using existing water supply and creating around 50-60 local jobs.

Project manager Andrew Reeves said Renascor would be funding upgrades to water pumps and pipes along the road to not interrupt the supply of local farmers.

The full-scale operation would see 100 local jobs and the construction of a desalination plant to service the mine.

Mr Reeves said the company hopes to source 80-90% of workers from the area.

"We are not proposing to have a fly in fly out operation," he said.

Mr Reeves said he believed farmers had a work ethic suitable for mining, and they would be looking at ways to employ locals while allowing them to continue their farming businesses.

He said workers from other areas would likely be living in rental accommodation in Arno Bay and surrounding towns.

"We're going to maximise our use of local businesses," he said.

Renascor have a plan in place to buy out the current landowners should the project go ahead, which includes allowing them the rights to farm land not yet required for the mining operation.

Renascor managing director David Christensen said the company was working through a "complicated" set of regulatory approvals that would likely be complete within months.

Should the company be able to secure financing for the operation, Mr Christensen said construction could start by the end of the year "if the stars align," and begin operation in late 2020.

Around 100 jobs would be created for the six to nine month period of construction.

Chairman Richard Keevers said Renascor would likely need to have sales contracts in place before they would be able to finance the project.