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Mardie salt and potash project, Australia – update

Location map of the Mardie project

Photo by BCI Minerals

13th October 2023

By: Sheila Barradas

Creamer Media Research Coordinator & Senior Deputy Editor

     

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Name of the Project
Mardie salt and potash project.

Location
On the Pilbara coast of Western Australia.

Project Owner/s
Potash developer BCI Minerals.

Project Description
An optimisation study has delivered a bigger project and an improved layout, compared with the July 2020 definitive feasibility study (DFS).

An expansion of the evaporation area has resulted in an increase of about 20% in salt production, from 4.4-million tonnes a year in the DFS to 5.35-million tonnes a year in the optimisation study, as well as an increase in sulphate of potash (SoP) production, from 120 000 t/y to 140 000 t/y.

Mardie will, ultimately, include a 100 km2 evaporation pond and crystalliser system, two processing plants and a new export facility.

Using an inexhaustible seawater resource and a production process driven mainly by natural solar and wind energy, there is potential to optimise and expand the project beyond the currently planned production levels.

The project’s operating life is estimated at a minimum of 60 years.

Potential Job Creation
During construction, 490 jobs are expected to be created, while 2 200 jobs are expected to be created during operations.

Net Present Value/Internal Rate of Return
The results of BCI’s design and cost review, completed in June 2023, have resulted in an improved net present value of A$2.6-billion, compared with the A$1.5-billion estimated at the time of the final investment decision.

Capital Expenditure
The results of BCI’s design and cost review, completed in June 2023, has resulted in an updated cost estimate for Mardie, to A$1.62-billion, with a base estimate of A$1.42-billion and a contingency of A$208-million.

Planned Start/End Date
Construction at Mardie started in February 2022.

The timing of the first salt on ship and first SoP on ship have been delayed, with first salt on ship now targeted for mid-2026 and SoP for mid-2027, instead of the initial target of the first quarter of 2024 and the first quarter of 2026 respectively.

Latest Developments
BCI Minerals has received credit approvals for a total project finance debt of A$981-million for its Mardie salt project.

Export Development Canada (EDC) has approved a A$150-million project finance facility, pending contractual close and the satisfaction of all conditions precedent, with a seven-year tenor.

Two leading commercial banks have also increased their credit approvals to a combined A$181-million in project finance facilities. This is in addition to the A$490-million, 15-year facility from the Northern Australia Infrastructure Fund (NAIF) and the A$160-million, 11-year facility from Export Finance Australia (EFA).

These facilities will fund all components of the Mardie project other than the SoP plant.

Debt funding for the SoP plant is proposed to be progressed during 2024 following the completion of further design and cost development.

The project finance facilities are fully underpinned by forecast salt revenues only.

All facilities remain conditional on formal documentation, securing required tenure and approvals for the optimised feasibility study area, equity funding, offtake arrangements and meeting other customary conditions associated with the loans.

BCI is targeting completion of formal debt documentation in the first half of 2024 and the first drawdown of debt in the second half of 2024, subject to satisfying all relevant conditions precedent.

Key Contracts, Suppliers and Consultants
The DFS was managed by BCI, with support from GR Engineering Services (DFS lead engineer), additional support from Worley, CMW Geosciences, Preston Consulting, RPS, Roskill, Argus Consulting, Braemar ACM Shipbroking and KPMG, besides others; and Engenium (project management contractor).

Contact Details for Project Information
BCI Minerals, tel +61 8 6311 3400 or email info@bciminerals.com.au.

 

Edited by Creamer Media Reporter

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