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Basin set to tap in

BASIN Minerals Ltd’s commitment to the development of a major mineral sands industry in the Western Victorian Murray Basin, with first production expected by 2004, has received a substantial boost from a joint government-industry mineral sands infrastructure planning study on the basin.

The study, released by the Federal Government and three state governments, estimates the region hosts at least 60 million tonnes of heavy mineral sands products worth about $13 billion, a large part of which is on Basin Minerals’ properties.

It says that future exploration is expected to greatly increase the current resources.

Over the past three years, the Perth-based company has spent more than $4.2 million on exploration in the basin.

At the Douglas project, near Horsham, this has identified 12.7 million tonnes of heavy mineral concentrate containing the high value mineral sands products rutile, zircon, ilmenite and leucoxene.

This is the biggest coarse-grained mineral sands resource so far found in the region and provides the company with a current, conservative, baseline project value of at least $100 million, with resources expected to last 20-plus years.

To put this into context, the well-known Capel region in south-west WA has produced 20Mt of heavy minerals product over the past 30 years.

Basin Minerals is preparing an upgraded resource estimate, expected to be released this week.

The company’s pre-feasibility on the Douglas project is scheduled for completion in September. Expectations are that the company will commit to a final bankable feasibility study, expected to take about 18 months, ahead of plant construction and mining in 2003 and first production by the following year.

Basin Minerals has targeted the coarse-grained ancient beach strandlines at Douglas, which make up the bulk of world production.

The discovery of these deposits resulted from targeting areas that bore close geological similarity with major mineral fields elsewhere, such as Eneabba and Capel in WA.

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