Australia’s first Aboriginal-owned iron ore mine is one step closer to becoming a reality as Australian Aboriginal Mining Corporation Pty Ltd (AAMC) secures a debt funding of approximately $27.1 million for the development of the First Iron Project in Western Australia.
“This is a landmark moment in the development of Australia’s first Aboriginal-owned iron ore producer and a wonderful milestone for Aboriginal engagement in this country’s mining industry.
“We now look forward to continuing our engagement with the WA Department of Mines, Industry Regulation and Safety to finalise the last remaining approvals as quickly as possible so that we can start construction at First Iron,” AAMC Chairman Daniel Tucker said.
The Northern Australia Infrastructure Facility (NAIF) has approved a $12.5 million loan which will fund the First Iron Project development. This is NAIF’s first investment for an iron ore project in Australia.
In addition, Westpac Banking Corporation has also provided a loan of $14.6 million towards the iron ore mine development.
“On behalf of AAMC, I thank NAIF and Westpac for their funding support of our endeavours to create opportunities for Aboriginal communities and businesses to become actively involved in mainstream mining businesses and to share in the wealth of the land,” Mr Tucker said.
AAMC will be utilising both loans to complete the debt funding requirements for the First Iron Project. The company will also commence an equity raising for $28 million with Patersons Securities for the mine development.
“NAIF’s objective through its financing is to achieve growth in the economies and populations of northern Australia and encourage and complement private sector investment in northern Australia.
“One of NAIF’s mandatory criteria is ensuring there are strong Indigenous outcomes for all of our investments. This support of the First Iron Project satisfies those criteria and NAIF is delighted to partner AAMC,” NAIF Chief Executive Officer Laurie Walker said.
The First Iron Project is going to be located approximately 80 kilometres north-west of Newman, at the site of an old iron ore deposit formerly known as Wonmunna, in the Pilbara region.
AAMC is anticipating to begin construction of the mine before Christmas.
The First Iron Project is expected to create up to 120 jobs during its construction and another 120 permanent jobs once the mine is operational.
This new low-cost iron ore operations will have an initial mine life of 11 years and it is set to provide iron ore to Fortescue Mining Group’s Cloudbreak operations. The first iron ore is expected to be delivered at Cloudbreak in the first quarter of 2020.
The debt funding and the equity raising fund will be used towards the construction of mine infrastructure including site accommodation, a borefield, crushing plant and a 55-kilometre haul road that will link the Great Northern Highway to the Cloudbreak operations.
“This isn’t just an investment in the hard infrastructure involved with the project - it’s an investment in the future of the people and communities of the Pilbara,” Minister for Resources and Northern Australia Matt Canavan said.
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