Matilda Zircon has started mining at its Tiwi Island zircon project in Australia’s Northern Territory and aims to send its first shipment of zircon concentrate to China in early August.
Matilda expects to produce about 40,000 tonnes of high grade zircon/rutile concentrate from the Tiwi project in 2010.
The company has an off-take agreement with project partner Tricoastal Minerals (Holdings) Limited. Based in Hong Kong, Tricoastal manages one of the largest mineral separation capacities in China and has a comprehensive sales network throughout China.
Matilda Zircon’s technical director Peter Gazzard says Darwin-based mining service provider Brash Contracting has started mining at the Lethbridge deposit on the Tiwi Islands.
“This is an important milestone. Mining is now under way and we have commenced stockpiling of ore in preparation for processing and shipping.
“In the coming two months we expect to ramp up mining, commence processing through our improved processing circuit, and ship the first shipment of zircon to China.
“The timing of the Tiwi start-up is excellent with a shortage of zircon on the world market leading to recent price increases.”
Accommodation facilities have been relocated from the previous mining site at Andranangoo to the Lethbridge West deposit. The project’s processing plant is now being relocated, and is expected to be fully operational by mid-July.
Matilda Zircon has added a mobile slurry unit to the processing stream, which will allow more efficient and lower cost mining. Ore will feed directly into the mobile slurry unit before being pumped into the plant concentrator circuit, eliminating the need for dump trucks to cart to the ROM Pad and ore rehandling.
Matilda is also introducing a pre-concentrator facility to double hourly production capacity from 150 tonnes to 300 tonnes. The unit is expected to arrive on site in mid August, and will allow Matilda to ramp up production in the second half of 2010.

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