Forming part of the approvals process for its Mount Peake vanadium-titanium-iron project in the Northern Territory, TNG Limited (ASX: TNG) has submitted a detailed assessment of alternative sites for its Tivan processing facility (TPF).
The resource and minerals processing tech company is proposing the Middle Arm industrial precinct in Darwin as the location for the facility due to its close proximity to existing utilities and transport infrastructure and availability of gas and water.
The company received a direction from the NT Environment Protection Authority in May to provide additional information to supplement its draft environmental impact statement (EIS).
The direction requires TNG to address 23 matters including a key requirement to demonstrate that all reasonable alternative locations for the Darwin TPF have been properly considered and evaluated using specified site selection criteria.
The alternative options
TNG weighed up a number of options before selecting the Darwin site and summarised its site selection study findings in the draft EIS.
The alternative sites considered were the Mount Peake mine site, located 235km north of Alice Springs, and sites near Alice Springs, within South Australia and even offshore. Other vacant land within the Darwin region were also considered.
According to TNG, preliminary reviews indicated there were more risks and fewer benefits associated with these alternative sites and as such, the company’s project engineering team decided not to progress with any further evaluation of these sites.
A further study has now been undertaken to provide this required addendum to the NT Environment Protection Authority.
Pros and cons of the proposed site at Darwin
The assessment took into account environmental and social impacts including traffic from the transport of materials, demands on local infrastructure, water resources, greenhouse gas emissions and community impacts such as noise, visual, social and economic impacts.
The review focused on comparing the Mount Peake mine site as the main alternative site for the Darwin TPF.
Favourable aspects of the Darwin site included its close proximity to Darwin Port, the railway line, a gas hub and other infrastructure, available water, workers’ accommodation and access to reagents including storage availability at Darwin Port. There are also sealed roads to and from the proposed site and there is mobile phone coverage and access to emergency services.
However, the Mount Peake mine site has other favourable aspects including a significant reduction in solid waste and tailings disposal costs, no haulage of concentrate to Darwin, less inclement weather downtime and reduced regulatory constraints related to noise and visual impacts, and the ability to feed concentrate from the beneficiation plant directly into the TPF without multiple handling.
Some less favourable aspects listed for the Darwin site include being in a cyclonic zone (requiring increased structure, cladding and construction costs) and increased humidity which can impact processing conditions, its location near the Darwin CBD and new international airport, and waste management considerations.
In addition, land tenure is still uncertain as the final terms are still in negotiation.
It is interesting to note there are less cons listed for the Mount Peake mine site and generally relate to additional costs for transport of reagents and products, infrastructure and operations such as roads, airport and accommodation, as well as revised permitting and agreements.
TNG has established a steering committee to undertake a strategic assessment and quantification of the operational, regulatory and commercial feasibility of having a consolidated mine site operation compared with the standalone TPF in Darwin.
The committee is expected to provide its final report to the TNG board in the “coming weeks”.