Building future Groote progresses

THE proponent of a small open cut manganese mine situated on Winchelsea Island off the Northern Territory has taken another step with a public consultation opening this month.
Building future Groote progresses Building future Groote progresses Building future Groote progresses Building future Groote progresses Building future Groote progresses

Paul Hunt

Senior Journalist: Energy & Commodities

Paul Hunt

Winchelsea Mining is a Chinese-Australian joint venture between the Anindilyakwa Advancement Aboriginal Corporation and AUS China International Mining.

The venture was established in 2018 and will develop and operate an open cut manganese mine on Winchelsea Island about 600km southeast of Darwin.

Winchelsea was granted a six-year mining licence for the project in December 2018.

Until Winchelsea began exploration later that year, no previous mining activity had ever taken place on the satellite island.

Operations will include strip mining using digging and rock breaking to extract ore which will then be stockpiled before delivery to a processing plant.

The manganese deposit is less than 30m below the ground sporting "world class grades" of between 40% and 80% manganese.

From processing the ore will be hauled 6km to a wharf at Little Paradise Bay and loaded from the conveyor onto ships for export to China.

According to its environmental plan, Winchelsea plans a 14-year mine life.

In a submission from NT chief minister Michael Gunner earlier this year, the mine will provide "significant benefits" including jobs and other economic benefits.

Winchelsea has committed to 50% Aboriginal employment.

However, the government did note some concerns around alcohol consumption at the worker camp, impacts on local fishing businesses, and community cohesion.

Winchelsea Island is approximately in size and lies less than 500m north of the much larger Groote Eylandt where South 32 operates its own manganese mine.

The Groote Eylandt project produces about 5 million tonnes of manganese ore a year.

However, that operation is expected to reach its mine life within the next eight years and Winchelsea hopes it can replicate the project at its own tenement.

The company's slogan is "building future Groote".