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20 May 2020
By DEAN LAWSON
Victorian mining advocates are confident Wimmera sand mining will play a major role alongside agriculture in rekindling economic growth as the state emerges from the COVID-19 threat.
They expect strong international demand for minerals, found in massive deposits across the region, and for the industry to be an important part of an economic stimulant mix moving forward.
Minerals Council of Australia’s Victoria executive director James Sorahan said expectations surrounding mineral-sand prospects for the region remained unchanged if mining projects either underway or in planning stages lived up to expectations.
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“What this crisis has shown us is that mining and agriculture – primary industries that produce raw materials – hold up well and can get through these shocks to the economy,” he said.
“Mining overall, fortunately, is an essential industry that keeps operating. When you look at other states with mining operations, they have continued to export during the crisis.
“Circumstances are also showing that having diverse economic drivers are important.”
Mr Sorahan said with four of the world’s largest sand-mining projects within a 70-kilometre radius of Horsham, mining in the Wimmera could well help anchor a regional Victorian economy. Horsham is also primed to become a mining hub.
“If and when new mining ventures get started in the Wimmera they will each employ a couple of hundred people and have long operational time frames,” he said.
“And while these projects are still in early stages in investment and resourcing, the potential remains unchanged. Victoria has some of the highest-grade mineral sands in the world and there are people interested in developing this resource.”
In October last year, Mr Sorahan predicted transformational socio-economic conditions in the region if mining prospects became reality.
He said at the time an area stretching north from Ararat through Northern Grampians, Horsham, Yarriambiack and Buloke municipalities, was on the cusp of becoming a mining hot spot – for gold and copper as well as mineral sands.
Mr Sorahan said the influence of mining in regional development would come down to factors such as international commodity markets, government policies and the direction of companies.
Minerals Council of Australia outlined its assessment of the opportunity mineral sands represented in a new publication, Mineral Sands: From ancient oceans to modern technology, available online at minerals.org.au/news/huge-global-opportunity-australia’s-mineral-sands.
Minerals Council of Australia chief executive Tania Constable explained in the booklet how Australia had 32 percent of the world’s titanium, 62 percent of rutile and 68 percent of zircon.
She said rutile and ilmenite were used in the production of paint, titanium metal and medical implants. Zircon is used in ceramics, digital printing, dentistry and electrical parts.
Smaller quantities of rare-earth elements were also produced through mineral sands used in wind-turbine magnets, and in medical, manufactured and electronic products such as fibre optics, rechargeable batteries and hybrid cars.
Mr Sorahan encouraged people keen to know more about sand mining, what was involved and how it would have an impact on the Wimmera-Mallee to read the booklet.
“The hope is the booklet will provide the Wimmera community, in particular, with useful information about how this development might look in the region,” he said.
“We have four development projects at various stages of approval, with a couple quite advanced with mining, based on approvals and funding, scheduled to get underway in three years.”
WIM Resource has its Avonbank site at Dooen, north of Horsham, Iluka Resources’ Wimmera Project is between Noradjuha and Toolondo, Murray Zircon is sitting on an expansive WIM 150 prospective mine at St Helens Plains east of Horsham, and Donald is home to Astron’s Donald Mineral Sands project.
The entire May 20, 2020 edition of The Weekly Advertiser is available online. READ IT HERE!