AUSTRALIA is set to tap a new vein of phosphate, with a new mine to bolster fertiliser supplies.
ASX listed explorer Centrex Metals announced Monday it had acquired the Ardmore project located south of Mount Isa from Incitec Pivot.
Centrex chief executive Ben Hammond said Ardmore was expected to start production in 2019, with supply bound for the domestic market, as well as New Zealand, India and Indonesia.
“We are targeting a first shipment in 2019, but that depends on our environmental approvals,” Mr Hammond said.
Production from Ardmore would help secure Australia’s phosphate supply security. Centrex said would allocate a third of production to Australia and New Zealand.
“In recent times shipments to Australia and New Zealand have been held up in mines in Morrocco’s disputed territories. And it’s uncertain how much (phosphate) is left on Christmas Island,” Mr Hammond said.
Mr Hammond cannot detail the size of Ardmore’s rate of production until Centrex advances its approvals process.
But he said a “good guide to the level that could be targeted” was the shared domestic phosphate demand for Australia and New Zealand, which is around 1 million tonnes a year.
That demand comes on top of the vertical supply chain run by Australia’s global industrial chemical producer Incitec Pivot. It supplies phosphate to its production arm from its Phosphate Hill mine, located near to Ardmore.
Ardmore is one of a small list of undeveloped high-grade phosphate rock deposits in the world.
Centrex listed its mineral resource at Ardmore at 12 million tonnes of direct shipping grade ore (29% P2O5).
Mr Hammond said the deposit would be economic to mine.
“The phosphorate rock deposit at Ardmore is near surface, flat lying, and doesn’t require blasting so mining will be via a cheap open cut operation,” he said.
Centrex will truck product from Ardmore 90km to the Mount Isa-Townsville rail line and export from Townsville through existing port facilities.
Sign up for our newsletter to stay up to date.