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Image Resources edges closer to development of WA mineral sands project

Image Resources Managing Director and CEO, Patrick Mutz Credit: File

Image Resources (ASX: IMA) has taken a key step towards the development of its Atlas mineral sands project in Western Australia after no formal objections were lodged for the implementation of the company’s development proposal. The outcome could speed up the group’s return to mining by several months, with the process now moving towards final ministerial approval.

The news follows a review process stemming from a positive recommendation from the Environmental Protection Authority back in March, with the decision triggering a three-week review period of proposed licence conditions. With no appeals filed during this window, approval of the Atlas project now sits with the Minister of Environment under the relevant section of the Environmental Protection Act.

The company seeks to commence construction at Atlas in the third quarter of this year with production planned for early 2025

This news not only reduces the total time for Image to return to active mining and revenue generation by 3-6 months, but also speaks to the quality of the application to meet the necessary environmental protection requirements…
Next steps include Ministerial approval, approval of management plans and securing secondary project approvals to allow commencement of construction and mining.
Image Resources Managing Director and CEO, Patrick Mutz

The group’s operating model involves the mining and processing of all ore reserves at its Boonanarring mineral sands project in WA, before self-funding the relocation of mining and processing equipment to Atlas from Boonanarring to continue production.

The company said the operating plan is running broadly in line with the original schedule from 2017, where five years of production at Boonanarring was to be followed by three years of operations at Atlas. Boonanarring was commissioned in late 2018 with the processing of final ore reserves concluded late last year.

According to management, Image is fully prepared to commence relocation of mining and processing equipment to Atlas as soon as final development approvals are granted, including its funding through existing cash reserves. The company held about $46 million in cash and equivalents at the end of December.

Image is also engaged in feasibility studies for several other mineral sands projects in WA as part of the group’s ‘Chapter 2’ growth and sustainability strategy. In the future it aims to operate several mines simultaneously, produce multiple products for global markets, whilst also investigating the potential for value-adding conversion of ilmenite to synthetic rutile.

The company is undertaking a definitive feasibility study on its Bidaminna project where a ten-year mine life has been projected, as well as a pre-feasibility study on its Yandanooka project where a decade of production is being targeted. The group is also running the rule over its potentially long-life McCalls and Mindarra Springs projects.

Image has ticked another box in its efforts to bring Atlas to production with final authorisation for the project’s development now tantalisingly close. Formal approval for Atlas could act as a catalyst for a long and fruitful production profile as the Perth-based outfit also advances a swathe of other projects held in its portfolio.

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