A NEW phosphate rock mine south of Mount Isa will provide a valuable new source of phosphorus-based fertilisers for Australian farmers.
Centrex Metals' Ardmore mine is 30km north of Dajarra and an updated definitive feasibility study has confirmed the project's economic feasibility estimated a pre-production capital cost of $78-million, to support an annual production of 800,000 tonnes a year.
The phosphate being extracted has a high percentage of phosphorus and is low in cadmium, which is an issue with some imported products.
Centrex has said the mine will have a minimum 10-year life span.
Rabobank agricultural analyst Wes Lefroy said Australian farmers use just short of two million tonnes of phosphorus-based fertilisers per annum, mostly in the form of MAP, DAP and single super.
Ardmore will make its first parcel of 25,000 tonnes of phosphate rock exclusively available for growers.
Once the mine is producing at full capacity the lion's share of the mine's product is intended for the phosphatic fertiliser production market.
The company has already managed to sell a shipment of finely crushed phosphate rock to an organic fertiliser producer on Australia's east coast - but as contract negotiations with other producers intensify, it is eager make local farmers aware that Australia's reliance on imported phosphate could soon be over.
Centrex announced its plans to mine phosphate rock at Ardmore in 2018 to help reduce Australia's increasingly risky reliance on imported phosphate.
Over the past year, economic conditions and phosphate rock prices have improved substantially, paving the way for the commencement of mining operations at Ardmore - a key contributing factor being the benchmark rock phosphate price which has climbed month on month over the past year, reaching USD$125/tonne in July, an increase of 62pc over the same period last year.
Centrex chief executive Robert Mencel said that the first parcel of high-grade phosphate rock heralded a critical improvement in the nation's self-sufficiency, fertiliser supply chain resilience and long-term food security due to better local supplies.
"This is the right project at the right time," Mr Mencel said.
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"We have an opportunity to help Australian farmers produce more food, do it in a more environmentally friendly and sustainable way, and at the same time provide a decent return to shareholders."