Note: Where available, the PDF/Word icon below is provided to view the complete and fully formatted document
[Press statement]



Download PDFDownload PDF

FOR PRESS:-

The Minister for the Interior, Mr Peter Nixon, announced

today that approval had been given for the granting of

additional special mineral leases on Groote Eylandt in the

Northe rn Territory to Groote Eylandt Mining Co. Pty. Ltd.,

a subsidiary of B.H.P.

In 1965, when the company was granted special mineral.

leases cf an area of about 13 square miles on Groote Eylandt for the mining of manganese ore, it was agreed that the company

;would carry out further mineral exploration work on the island

and conduct a feasibility study into the establishment of a ferro-man anese plant at Groots Bylandt or elsewhere in the

Northern Territory.

For the establishment of such a plant further production

leases would be considered.

The company's feasibility report, which was submitted to

the Minister for Territories in July 1967, showed that

Ferro-manganeso production in the Northern Territory was

uneconomic.

Mr Nixon said that as an alternative development the

company proposed to replace its crushing and screening plant with a new and much more comprehensive beneficiation plant

with a greatly increased capacity.

Under the conditions negotiated between the Commonwealth

and the company for the granting of these father leases adjacent to its existing leases the company would be required

to -

Establish beneficiation facili-Lies at Groote Eylandt with a minimum capacity of 700,000 tons of manganese ore p.a. by 30 June 1971 rising to at least 1 million tons

p.a. capacity by 30 June 1974.

...2/

-2-

Undertake a minimum expenditure comf it rent on research into the agglomeration of fine concentrates.

Undertake a feasibility study of the production of

agglomerates in the Northern Territory and elsewhere

in Australia and construct an agglomeration plant

in the Territory if this became technic-ally and

economically feasible or elsewhere in Australia if the company had shown to the satisfaction of the

Government that the establishment of a plant was not feasible in the Northern Territory but was

feasible elsewhere in Australia. The position

would be reviewed periodically if the initial study indicated that agglomeratioii was not feasible.

Undertake five-yearly reviews into the prospects for ferro-manganese production in the Northern Territory

and elsewhere in Australia and construct a ferro-manganese plant in the Territory if economically

feasible or elsewhere in Australia if the company

had shoved to the satisfaction of the Government

that the establishment of a plant was not economically feasible in the Northern Territory but was feasible

elsewhere in Australia.

If in regard to these processing commitments further processing (agglomeration and ferro-manganese oroduction)became

feasible in the Territory but was si 1 ificaLntly less favourable than at locations in Australia outside the Northern Territory

then the Government would at the request of the company consider

accepting the establishment of further processing facilities (agglomeration and smelting) elsewhere in Australia rather than

in the Northern Territory as satisfying the commitment.

Mr Nixon said the beneficiation facilities , ,ihich would be

installed were designed to replace the existing 400,000 ton

capacity plant.

' After extensive metallurgical investigations of the very

wide variet r of ores in the deposit the company had. agreed to instal a more sophisticated p lant t 1a.- t would produce a greater range of higher marketable grades.

...3/

-3—

Tht capital investment by the Company in the Groote Eylandt operation was already about $14 million and on completion of the new beneficiation facilities in 1974 this would increase to at least $35 million.

, Nixon said the increased production which would result from the benefioiation plant would provide increased financial benefits to the Aboriginal people in the Northern Territory.

Because the island was part of an Aboriginal reserve double the normal mineral royalties were paid on the value of ore sold. These royalties were paid to a trust fund for the benefit of the Aboriginal people in the Territory.

Royalty payments into this trust fund from the Groote Eylandt manganese operation were expected to increase from their current level of about $130,000 p.a. to about $400,000 p.a. by mid-1975 when the new beneficiation plant was producing at its planned capacity of 1 million

tons p. a.

B.H.P. had also agreed to make special payments approximat-ing half the government royalty to a fund which is administered by a committee comprised of seven Aboriginal voting members and four advisory members representing the Church Missionary Society and the Welfare Branch

of the Northern Territory Administration. These special payments were being used for the benefit of the Aboriginal community cn Groate Eylandt.

The new facilities would also provide additional employment opportunities for the boriginal people on the island. The company's polioy was to employ Aboriginal workers where practicable.

There were now about 180 persons employed on the projeot including about 35 Aboriginals. For an annual production capacity of 1 million tons the new facilities would require an additional work force of about 100 persons.

The Groote Eylandt manganese deposits were a valuable resource. Groote Eylandt supplied Australia ts manganese ore requirements and large tonnages were exported to Japan, Europe and the U.S.A.

Total shipments in 1967/8 amounted to some 355,000 tons of which about 114,000 tons were used domestically and about 241,000 tons exported. Exports in 1967/8 were valued at about $4.5 million.

Mr. Nixon said that there was increasing activity in the exploration and development of the Terlitory ws mineral resources.

Not only had the value of mineral production increased significantly in recent years with the development of new projects such as at Greets Eylandt but also there had been increased expenditure on mineral exploration throughout the Territory.

This expansion in the exploration and development of the Territory's mineral resources could be expected to continue in the future."

3/F t / 6