A year after going into administration, company Australian Abrasive Minerals is reopening its garnet mine about 200 kilometres north-east of Alice Springs.
The company said it was now financed by Australian investors and had greater certainty going forward.
As one of only five major garnet mines in the world, according to Abrasive Minerals Harts Range also has the world’s largest alluvial deposit of garnet.
The garnet material is used in various mining applications such as blast cleaning and water jet cutting.
New investors on board
Managing director and chief executive Robert Brand said the business had gone into administration a year ago after its main international investor had financial difficulties.
“They suffered some very, very significant losses in their commodities trading division. As a result they decided they would exit any investment in minerals and mining,” Mr Brand said.
“They made the decision that they wanted to sell their interest in the Harts Range mine, and they appointed KordaMentha as an administrator so they could proceed with that process.”
Mr Brand said the company had now found new investors who were all Australian, which meant it could upgrade the mine and start production again soon.
“We managed to attract some very good quality investors, and we were able then to buy the project back through the administration process,” he said.
Mine back online next year
The mine has been in care and maintenance mode for just over a year, and the plant is now being recommissioned to start producing again.
According to Mr Brand, the mine will be back operating early next year after going through several upgrades.
Mr Brand said the processing plant about 30 kilometres north of Alice Springs was also ready to reopen.
“The demand for garnet has continued, so there’s no shocks in the market,” he said.
“The exploration work that we’ve done is for an initial mine life of 10 years, but the surrounding areas that we have explored, [means] it has got at least another 20 years.”
Jobs available as business staffs up
At the time the mine went into care and maintenance mode, it employed about 20 people on site, which was then was cut down to 12.
“There were some redundancies that occurred and that was unfortunate, but it wasn’t as big an impact as it might have been if it had occurred at any other time, because we were just staffing up,” Mr Brand said.
“We were only just commencing the ramp-up process, so we had minimal staffing levels because we hadn’t gone on to the full 24-hours-a-day, seven-days-a-week model.”
As for what employment opportunities might be ahead, Mr Brand said the company was slowly hiring more staff.
“At the mineral separation plant there is about 20 [jobs].”