PERTH (miningweekly.com) – A final investment decision (FID) on the Stage 1 development of the Thunderbird mineral sands project, in Western Australia, has been taken by ASX-listed Sheffield Resources.
The FID came just days after Sheffield announced that its subsidiary Kimberley Mineral Sands (KMS) has secured a $110-million production linked facility with Orion Mineral Royalty Fund.
In conjunction with the A$160-million debt financing package from the North Australian Infrastructure Facility (NAIF), the Orion facility completed the project financing requirements for the A$484-million Thunderbird mineral sands project.
“We are delighted to make the FID on this outstanding, world class mineral sands project. With first production from Thunderbird on track for the first quarter of 2024, Thunderbird is fully funded and set to deliver A$695-million in net present value to Sheffield’s shareholders over its 36-year life,” said executive chairperson Bruce Griffin.
Development of Thunderbird started in mid-2021 utilising equity proceeds provided by Yansteel following the inception of the KMS joint venture. With Thunderbird construction now more than 40% complete, the project remains on track for first production in the first quarter of 2024, enabling the delivery of strong cashflows and benefits to all stakeholders across the projected 36 year mine life.
The two-stage Thunderbird development pathway sees the initial Stage 1 mining and processing feed rate forecast at 1 085 t/h at the wet concentrate plant (WCP), with Stage 2 doubling the WCP feed rate to 2 170 t/h targeted during Year 5 of operations.
Stage 1 and 2 of operations are estimated to produce 1.4-million tonnes a year of zircon and ilmenite concentrates over an estimated 36-year life-of-mine.
The direct capital expenditure for Stage 1 of Thunderbird at FID is A$379-million including contingency, an increase of A$16-million from the March 2022 bankable feasibility study (BFS).
At FID, the Stage 1 and 2 net present value (NPV) of A$1.39-billion and post-tax internal rate of return of 26.6% are similar to the A$1.28-billion and 27.5% in the March 2022 BFS, with the changes largely driven by updated commodity price forecasts. Sheffield’s 50% share of the project generates yearly average earnings before interest, taxes, depreciation and amortisation of A$121-million and estimated NPV of A$695-million.