Mineral sands producer Image Resources has secured ministerial approval for the proposed development of its fully owned Atlas mineral sands project in Western Australia.

The approval was given by Western Australia Minister for Energy, Environment and Climate Action Reece Whitby under Part IV of the Environmental Protection Act 1986. It enables the company to move a step closer to the development of the mineral sands project.

Located 90km north of Image Resources’ Boonanarring project, the Atlas mineral sands project is a shallow and high-grade open pit mine. It contains 5.5 million tonnes of ore reserves at 9.2% total heavy minerals.

The Atlas project is estimated to have a mine life of a minimum of three years. It will also have the potential to extend through additional exploration.

According to the bankable feasibility study released in 2017, the company’s operational plan entails extracting and processing all ore reserves at the Boonanarring project.

Subsequently, the strategy is to independently finance the transfer of mining and processing equipment from the Boonanarring project to the Atlas project, allowing mining operations to proceed.

The 2017 operational plan is largely proceeding according to the initial schedule of five years of operation at the Boonanarring project, followed by three years at the Atlas project, said Image Resources.

The Boonanarring project commenced operations in Q4 2018, with the processing of final ore reserves concluded in Q3 2023.

Image Resources is fully equipped, including funding from cash reserves, to transfer mining and processing equipment to the Atlas project once all secondary approvals are obtained.

Image Resources managing director and CEO Patrick Mutz said: “Receiving approval from the Minister for Environment to implement the development of the Atlas Project is a significant milestone for Image.

“This moves the Company one significant step closer to returning to active mining and revenue generation.”

Mutz also said that the company aims to begin site construction early in Q3 this year, with mining and commissioning slated to commence in Q4 2024. Besides, the production of heavy mineral concentrate is expected in Q1 2025.