Sheffield confident about Thunderbird works

Headshot of Jakeb Waddell
Jakeb WaddellBroome Advertiser
Sheffield Resources managing director Bruce McFadzean. 27 JUNE 2017
Camera IconSheffield Resources managing director Bruce McFadzean. 27 JUNE 2017 Credit: Danella Bevis The West Australian

A world-class mineral sands mine that would create hundreds of jobs for Kimberley residents could still be on track to begin construction in a matter of months, according to its managing director.

Sheffield Resources said in January this year it was searching for a strategic partner to raise the remaining $250 million for its $600 million Thunderbird Mineral Sands Project, between Broome and Derby, on the Dampier Peninsula.

The announcement came soon after the resources company had finally obtained long-awaited environmental and native title approvals.

But Sheffield Resources managing director Bruce McFadzean, pictured, told the Broome Advertiser last week he was confident the company was “just months away” from finding a third party to fund the project and was aiming to begin construction by October to November.

“We will get a partner and we are fairly confident that we will start this project before the wet season this year — that’s what we’re targeting and we’ll continue working towards that,” he said. “We just have to close that financial gap but everything else is done. In the industry, we use the term shovel ready and we are shovel ready.

“We are in the process of selling down some of the project that we own 100 percent of, and the objective is to have the remainder of the project funded by someone else who will buy a percentage of the asset for a sum of money and that is the finalisation of the equity gap.”

The project would see barges move zircon out of Derby, where it would be loaded onto bigger ships, while other products would be transported out of the Port of Broome in sea containers each month.

The company has committed to a drive-in, drive-out workforce for the project, which is expected to create 280 jobs for residents of Broome, Derby and surrounding indigenous communities.

About 220 of these positions would be required for the construction phase alone.

Mr McFadzean said it was an exciting time for the region.

“We are staring down four decades of opportunity and the community can bank on us employing locally and giving them a good, proper roster,” he said.

“We are a community-focused business — if we were not, then there is no way we would be successful.”

Shire of Broome president Harold Tracey said a decision on the mine was a long time coming and the town was looking forward to it.

“We look at Sheffield’s Thunderbird mine as a game changer for Broome and the West Kimberley,” he said.

“They have demonstrated commitment to hiring a local workforce and we excited by the prospect of people getting local work and it contributing to economy.”

Broome Chamber of Commerce and Industry president Peter Taylor said Sheffield’s final investment decision would boost business confidence in the Kimberley town and looked forward to the jobs it would create for local people.

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