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The Darwin Port facility in the Northern Territory

TNG edging closer to production in the top end

ASX-listed strategic metals developer TNG Ltd has the finish line in sight for its large Mount Peake vanadium-titanium-iron project, located near Alice Springs in the Northern Territory.

The company is finalising its environment statement and permitting processes for both the Mount Peake mine site and infrastructure requirements and its proposed TIVAN downstream processing plant facility close to Darwin Port.

The environmental impact statement, or “EIS”, for the Darwin processing facility, is being administered separately to the environmental approvals for the Mount Peake mine site and concentrator, previously completed in 2017.

This EIS is well underway and expected to be drafted and submitted to the relevant authorities during the June quarter of 2019.

TNG’s refining plant and associated equipment will form part of a large chemical processing facility requiring a footprint of about 0.4 square kilometres.

This facility will produce three high value finished materials for export, including vanadium pentoxide flake, iron oxide pellets and titanium pigment.

These products will be generated via the proprietary TIVAN process and the downstream refinery plant before packaging, railing and then shipping to Asian off-take partners from the Darwin Port, which is only 10km up the road from the facility.

The location for the plant was chosen because of its previous ground disturbance associated with the extraction of building materials and is in an area already zoned for heavy industrial use.

A comprehensive Mine Management Plan, or “MMP”, for the mine site and infrastructure at Mount Peake, will also be submitted next quarter to the NT Department of Primary Industry and Resources, with whom TNG has been consulting closely to avoid unnecessary delays to approval for the mine project.

The company will initially haul concentrated products to a rail siding facility on the Adelaide-Darwin rail corridor to the east, where it will be transported north to the Darwin processing facility for refining and export.

TNG Managing Director Paul Burton said: “We are close to finalising our two remaining milestone permits. Our lead environmental consultant, APM, has done a great job in helping to identify and appoint the right group of consultants to complete the required technical studies to finalise the EIS for the TIVAN processing plant in Darwin.”

“This is a large, complex downstream processing facility which is being fully assessed for its potential environmental impacts as part of the EIS and permitting process, and has required a number of additional studies compared to the mine site EIS.”

“Both the EIS and the MMP are very important documents for the company and submission should pave the way for development activities to commence, subject to finance and other remaining approvals”.

Mount Peake has an ore reserve of 41.1 million tonnes grading 0.42% vanadium pentoxide, 7.99% titanium dioxide and 28% iron.

It is forecast to produce 243,000 tonnes of high-purity vanadium pentoxide, 3.5 million tonnes of titanium pigment and 10.6 million tonnes of high-grade iron oxide during its initial 17-year mine life, according to economic studies undertaken for TNG.

The company has appointed Germany’s KfW IPEX-Bank to lead a USD$600m debt raising to underpin the project’s development.

KfW IPEX-Bank has a proven track record for complex project financings worldwide and will structure, coordinate, lead, arrange and manage a syndicate to raise funds.

The final capital requirements will be determined and optimised during the ongoing Mount Peake front end engineering and design or “FEED” study and lender’s due diligence.

KfW IPEX-Bank will also advise TNG on how to maximise cover instruments available from export credit agencies.

German metallurgical engineering company SMS Group is undertaking the FEED work, which includes all process plant equipment including the mine site concentrator, TIVAN downstream processing plant, titanium pigment plant and associated equipment.

TNG’s proprietary TIVAN process is a method for treating ore without the need for expensive, energy-intensive roasting to produce a titanium feedstock with low iron content.

SMS will also provide a binding fixed-priced turn-key engineering, procurement and construction proposal for the concentrator and processing plant.

This will include production quantity, production rate and product quality guarantees that will significantly de-risk the project for TNG.

Other milestones that have been ticked off include securing both the mineral leases, a native title access agreement for the project and offtake agreements for most of the products generated at Mount Peake.

Having KfW IPEX-Bank in its corner to lead the debt raising is a clear positive for TNG.

This process could receive support from the strong market demand for vanadium with current prices sitting over AUD$37,000 per tonne for high-grade premium vanadium pentoxide flake.

TNG already has a binding life-of-mine offtake agreement in place with Woojin Industries in South Korea, to purchase a minimum 60% of Mount Peake’s vanadium product.

This week’s announcement shows that the company is well on track to kick off Australia’s first new vanadium-titanium-iron mine since 2014.

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