Valence Industries has received regulatory approvals for its wholly-owned Uley graphite mining and manufacturing facilities in South Australia. The approvals allow Valence to commence commercial-scale graphite production from existing stockpiles through the phase I plant with initial flake graphite deliveries scheduled for January 2015.

The South Australian Department of State Development (DSD) on December 23 approved the company’s Program for Environment Protection and Rehabilitation (PEPR), the primary approval for mining operations to recommence at the Uley graphite facilities.

As a condition of this approval the company is lodging a rehabilitation bond of $1.708 million for past and future work on the existing mining leases. Valence has also worked closely with South Australia’s Environment Protection Authority (EPA) and Department for Environment, Water and Natural Resources (DEWNR) in the resolution of approvals, which includes the Works Approval under the Environment Protection Act, also received on December 23.

The approvals also allow Valence Industries to construct and operate its phase II plant expansion and commence mining from Uley Pit 2. In phase II ore from Uley Pit 2 will be sourced from the starter pit outlined in the company’s ore reserve statement to a depth of 16 metres. This is in line with the mine plan over the first 18 months of mine life.

Groundwater has been a particular focus, with South Australian Government scientists determining that no groundwater will be used in the approved mining operations, and requiring Valence to undertake detailed monitoring to demonstrate the ongoing integrity of local water resources.

Subject to satisfying government conditions relating to groundwater, Valence intends to mine the Uley Pit 2 to a depth of 60 metres. To support these operations, and forming part of studies toward Valence Industries’ future mine expansion plans, this monitoring will be conducted in close consultation with DSD, the EPA and DEWNR. Costs associated with these activities have been incorporated within the capital costs for the upcoming feasibility study.

Full commissioning of the secondary circuit will now commence, followed by production from the treatment and packaging of existing graphite fines stockpiles, before moving on to full commissioning the primary circuit and processing existing run-of-mine stockpiles (174,000 tonnes at 6.23% graphitic carbon).

As the only operating graphite mine in Australia, and with approvals in place, Valence is scheduled to commence new deliveries of flake graphite in January 2015 to existing customers in the Asia Pacific, Europe and North America. Valence is also on track to receive further secondary State and Local government licences as required during the plant ramp up phase.

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