Verdant Minerals has released a progress update on its Ammaroo phosphate project.
According to the company, the project’s definitive feasibility study, environmental approvals process and associated financing activities continue to progress in order to de-risk the project and underpin the project’s value.
Verdant claims that the draft supplementary environmental impact statement (EIS) has been completed, and is currently undergoing an adequacy check by the Northern Territory Environmental Protection Authority (NT EPA). Assuming that the check does not lead to any extra work, it is anticipated that the draft supplementary EIS will be submitted for formal assessment in early May this year. Once the formal assessment begins, the NT EPA reportedly has a statutory 35 calendar days to complete the assessment and make its recommendations to the minister. Therefore, the Northern Territory EIS process will be completed in June this year.
In addition to this, Verdant claims that the Federal Environmental Protection and Biodiversity Conservation (EPBC) act preliminary documentation review process is currently in its final assessment phase by the Federal Government Department of Environment and Energy. Verdant claims that the statutory 40 business-day assessment phase began on 5 March 2018, and is expected to be completed in May this year, recognising that the Department has informed the company that it is currently not able to meet its statutory assessment time frames and that the receipt of a draft decision is likely to be delayed by a minimum of two weeks.
In the statement, Verdant also adds that the feasibility study is almost complete, with the engineering design reviews having been completed and final capital and operating cost reviews currently in the process of being completed as a precursor to finalising an economic assessment. It is intended to draw a line under the study phase over the next few weeks and position the project to commence a formal construction contractor engagement process, project optimisation and value engineering in cooperation with selected constructors and financing phase, which will include due diligence by the Northern Australia Infrastructure Fund (NAIF).
As was announced on 19 March on the ASX, Verdant claims that a non-binding memorandum of understanding (MoU) has been signed with Wilson International Trading Ltd for up to 350 000 tpy of phosphate rock concentrate or other phosphate products that Ammaroo might produce in the future. Wilson International Trading procures up to 1 million tpy of phosphate rock concentrate for Greenstar Fertilizers, which is a leading fertilizer manufacturer and marketer in India.
In the statement, Verdant also claims that offtake discussions are on going with numerous regional importers of phosphate rock and a further two fertilizer manufacturers have requested and received samples of Ammaroo rock concentrate in the last few weeks to be assessed. The company argues that the completion of environmental approvals and a line of sight to project financing will benefit the transition of offtake discussions into binding agreements.
Discussions with the NT Government regarding a project development agreement are also reportedly on going.
The Native Title Agreement negotiations with the Native Title Holders and their advisers (the Central Land Council) are underway. Subject to satisfactory outcomes in negotiation meetings scheduled for late April this year, an authorisation meeting ‘on country’ with traditional owners in mid May 2018 is being targeted.