The state government says it will supercharge the ramp up of the $150 million Century Zinc Mine after negotiating a royalty deferral deal with New Century Resources.
Due to delays with the Adani project, the New Century deal is the first Royalty Deferral and Repayment Agreement negotiated under Queensland's Resources Regional Development Framework and will provide a precedent for similar future arrangements.
Premier Annastacia Palaszczuk said the royalty deal was an important step in the government's commitment to the North West.
"The North West Minerals Province is rich in minerals like copper, cobalt, zinc and gold, as well as rare earth minerals that will play an increasing role in renewable electricity generation and battery technology," the Premier said.
"We want to see new projects in the NWMP, but also new technologies that can extract more value from former projects like this."
New Century is in stage one of a two stage project. Since 2018 it has recommissioned the existing infrastructure and ramping up operations at the Century Zinc Mine to reprocess the vast zinc and silver tailings resource.
In the future it wants to restart conventional mining of known in-situ resources to produce zinc and lead concentrates, increasing the economic life of the project.
The reinvigoration of the Mine has the additional benefit of continuing the operation of a 304km slurry pipeline between the mine site and Karumba, and the dredging of the Port of Karumba, making the port available for other commercial users.
Deputy Premier Jackie Trad said New Century was a great example of what the RRDF can achieve.
"When we announced this framework in 2017, it could apply to all new resource projects in the North-West Minerals Province and Galilee and Surat Basins," Ms Trad said. "When royalties are deferred, they have to be repaid in full, with interest and with security of payment. Investors have to meet a financial assurance model to ensure compliance with environmental conditions to cover rehabilitation costs."
Ms Trad said New Century has satisfied all these conditions through an exhaustive process and has also committed to employ a significant proportion of local indigenous workers through the additional jobs being created by the project.
"The Company has set a great benchmark for future proponents wishing to engage in a Royalty Deferral and Repayment Agreement."
Minister for Mines Dr Anthony Lynham said New Century's investment underlines the region's potential for Queensland's future.
"This year's budget added an additional $110 million on top of $39 million already invested in supporting mining in the North West Minerals Province," Dr Lynham said.
"While New Century is using its own dedicated slurry pipeline to and port facility at Karumba, we're reducing freight costs for users on the Mount Isa to Townsville rail line and contributing towards the construction and operation of containerised freight loading and unloading facilities at the Port of Townsville."
New Century Managing Director Patrick Walta said the Company's value proposition paid particular attention to delivering tangible economic mine rehabilitation benefits and also ensuring local stakeholders were partners in the process through employment, ongoing dividends and community support.
"The Century Mine has a long history of engagement with stakeholders in the Gulf of Carpentaria and, since taking over the project in 2017, we have focussed on enhancing the benefits of our project for the broader community, including Traditional Owners, local industry, the Burke and Carpentaria Shires, and to Queensland more broadly," Mr Walta said.
"The New Century team's achievements to date have set the benchmark in demonstration of the potential for economic mine rehabilitation in Australia. We appreciate the Queensland Government's strong support in ensuring this innovative model can successfully achieve sound mine closure and rehabilitation practices into the future."
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