Murray Zircon Pty Ltd has today celebrated the official opening of the Mindarie Mineral Sands Project in South Australia along with its parent company, Shantou China-based Guangdong Orient Zirconic Ind Sci & Tech Co. Ltd (OZC), a publicly listed company on the Shenzhen Stock Exchange (Stock Code: 002167).
Speaking at the opening, Murray Zircon Chairman Mr Chaodian Chen said the successful start-up of the Mindarie Project was an important step for Orient Zirconic towards its goal of vertical integration, with the supply of zircon from Mindarie to be used as feedstock for OZC’s zircon processing facilities.
“The Mindarie Project is just the first step Orient Zirconic is taking in its global search for resources,” Mr Chen said.
OZC is one of China’s largest zircon processing companies with revenues of approximately $A100 million, 1700 employees and a market capitalisation of approximately $A1.1 billion. The company produces the most comprehensive range of zirconium products in the world. Mr Chen is founder and major shareholder of OZC.
The Premier of South Australia, the Hon. Jay Weatherill, officially opened the project at a formal gathering at Mindarie, located 150km northeast of Adelaide. Attendees at the event included a delegation of local and South Australian government officials; visiting dignitaries from Shantou City and the Guangdong Province in China; representatives from the China Embassy in Canberra; South Australian regulatory officials from DMITRE and the EPA; local landowners; as well as contractors and suppliers and other invited guests.
“The successful start-up of the Mindarie Project marks the initial formation of Orient Zirconic’s vertical integration strategy,” Mr Chen said. “It has profound strategic significance in securing the supply of zircon for Orient Zirconic. It also lays a solid foundation for the Company to achieve its strategic goal of making Orient Zirconic a world’s first-class integrated manufacturer in the zirconium industry.”
Murray Zircon acquired the Mindarie Project in 2011 as part of a joint venture agreement between OZC and Australian Zircon NL (AZC). Since that time, Murray Zircon has been redeveloping the project with mine and processing plant commissioning starting in December 2012. AZC is no longer involved in the project.
Murray Zircon’s assets include more than 11,000 sq km of exploration tenements in the Murray Basin including 9 mining leases. Mineral resources have been estimated at more than 165 million tonnes of ore at a grade of 3.2% heavy minerals (HM) in the measured and indicated category in accordance with the JORC Code, with an estimated project life of more than 15 years. In addition, the Company has embarked on an active exploration programme aimed at increasing the current resource base and to identify potential new deposits.
OZC is purchasing the zircon produced by Murray Zircon for use in its zirconium products manufacturing facilities in China. OZC specialises in the manufacture and research of zirconium products for ceramics, electronics, fibre connectors, aviation, spaceflight and solid fuel batteries.
Mineral sands are natural beach sands containing economic quantities of heavy minerals including zircon, rutile and ilmenite. Long, narrow strands of these ancient beaches located 5-15 metres below the current ground surface are mined and the heavy minerals removed using gravity separation to make a heavy mineral concentrate (HMC). HMC is then further processed to separate the various heavy minerals into individual product streams of zircon, rutile and ilmenite.
Murray Zircon Chief Executive Patrick Mutz said the Mindarie Project now employed over 130 staff directly and, as a result of mine operations, the Company was actively contributing to the South Australian economy through salaries, land owner compensation, payroll taxes, services and royalties.
”Murray Zircon has been working diligently to engage with the local community, demonstrate successful rehabilitation of previously mined lands, and to earn the confidence of regulators and other stakeholders by meeting or exceeding the Company’s operational and environmental commitments,” he said.
The Mindarie Project is scheduled to produce up to 120,000 tonnes of HMC per annum which is transported by road to Port Adelaide for export.
Zircon is used in a wide range of products including ceramics, electronics, and aviation equipment as well as in antiperspirants. Rutile is predominately used in paint pigments, welding electrodes, refractory materials, ceramics, paint pigments, welding electrodes and also in sunscreen. The principal uses for ilmenite are as a pigment in paints and paper, as a flux in steelmaking and as refractory material to line high temperature furnaces.