The $1.4 billion Dugald River zinc project has gained special status to help cut red tape and create hundreds of jobs in north Queensland.
State Development Minister and Minister for Natural Resources and Mines Dr Anthony Lynham has granted “prescribed project” status to MMG Ltd’s project, 85 km north-east of Mt Isa.
“Projects like Dugald River are critical to economic development and job creation in the north-west during these tough times caused by ongoing resource commodity price lows,” Dr Lynham said.
“Granting it prescribed project status will allow the Coordinator-General to assist MMG to navigate processes and timely approvals through government.
“This is tangible evidence of the Palaszczuk Government’s commitment to winning jobs and infrastructure in the north-west.
“This is more action for the north-west, on top of our accelerated works program in Mount Isa and the North West Minerals Province Taskforce.”
MMG hopes to start construction mid-year at Dugald River, creating 600 jobs during construction and about 400 jobs once the zinc mine is operational.
Dr Lynham said the company had advised it was still finalising its workforce makeup, but anticipated having a mixed workforce of north-west locals, being bused into camp, and fly-in, fly-out from the coast.
MMG Chief Executive Officer Andrew Michelmore said the company appreciated the strong support it has received from the Queensland Government.
“This decision will support MMG to deliver one of the world’s highest-grade zinc deposits at a time of tightening global zinc supply,” he said.
Mr Michelmore added that the project, which is still subject to financing, will contribute directly to the North West Queensland Mineral Province at a time when new investment is needed.
“The development of Dugald River is expected to provide significant employment, economic and revenue benefits to Cloncurry and Queensland over an expected mine life of more than 30 years,” he said.
Dugald River is one of the world’s largest and highest grade known undeveloped zinc-lead-silver deposits with a resource of 53 million tonnes. At peak production of 160,000 tonnes of zinc a year, it would be one of the world’s top 10 zinc mines.
The project includes the mine, concentrator processing plant, maintenance workshops, accommodation and administration, and road, rail and port logistics to export from Townsville.
MMG anticipates production starting in the first half of 2018.
Dr Lynham said the traditional owners, the Kalkadoon People, would also benefit from their Native Title Agreement with MMG, which provides for training, employment, business development opportunities and cultural recognition throughout the life of the mine.