Matilda Zircon has all approvals and service contracts in place to begin operations at its Tiwi Island Zircon Project, where it expects to start mining within a month.
Matilda aims to produce about 40,000 tonnes of high grade zircon/rutile concentrate from the Tiwi project in 2010, with first shipment to China expected in late July.
The company has signed an offtake agreement with project partner Tricoastal Minerals (Holdings). Based in Hong Kong, Tricoastal manages one of the largest mineral separation capacities in China and has a comprehensive sales network throughout China. As part of the agreement, Tricoastal will market 100% of production from the Tiwi Project.
Matilda has secured all key contracts for a restart of operations, including agreements for mining, shipping, barging and power.
Darwin-based mining service provider Brash Contracting has upgraded roads to facilitate the relocation of the camp and processing plant to the Lethbridge West deposit where first mining will take place.
Matilda has appointed shipping logistics provider MCS to coordinate shipping from the Tiwi Islands direct to Haikou Port on Hainan Island, China. Zircon concentrate will be barged from Tiwi Island to the ship by Darwin-based Workboats Northern Australia.
Matilda’s chairman Mal Randall says the company has delivered on a number of key milestones since the end of the wet season, and is now moving quickly toward production.
“In recent months we have seen a continued growth in Chinese demand for zircon with steady price increases as a result, and an expectation of further price increases in the second half of 2010.
“Matilda is now in a prime position to capitalize on the surging Chinese demand for zircon.”
Based on resource and grading, two Tiwi Island projects, Lethbridge West and Lethbridge South, have been identified for immediate mining through the 2010 dry season.
In its 2010 Mine Plan, Matilda has also introduced a number of enhanced mining and processing methods which will double plant capacity and reduce operating costs. This includes the introduction of an in-pit mobile slurry unit, and installation of a pre-concentrator facility.
The mobile slurry unit will eliminate double handling through the ROM Pad, allowing more efficient and lower cost mining and processing at the Tiwi project. The pre-concentrator will double hourly production capacity to 300 tonnes for the established processing plant.

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