The mineral sands project is being developed in Australia by Sheffield Resources and Yansteel through their joint venture Kimberley Mineral Sands


Orion Resource Partners to provide $110m loan facility to the Thunderbird mineral sands project. (Credit: Khusen Rustamov from Pixabay)

Sheffield Resources and YGH Australia Investment (Yansteel) have secured a $110m production-linked loan facility from Orion Resource Partners (Aus) for the Thunderbird mineral sands project in Western Australia.

In this connection, a non-binding term sheet has been signed for the loan facility between Kimberley Mineral Sands and Orion. Kimberley Mineral Sands is a 50:50 joint venture formed between Sheffield Resources and Yansteel in 2020.

Kimberley Mineral Sands is developing the Thunderbird mineral sands project and nearby tenements on the Dampier Peninsula in the Kimberley region.

Last month, Kimberley Mineral Sands secured a loan facility of A$160m ($111.5m) from the Northern Australian Infrastructure Fund (NAIF). Along with the proposed loan facility from Orion, Kimberley Mineral Sands is anticipated to reach a financial close on the Thunderbird mineral sands project in the coming months.

The completion of the loan facility from Orion is conditional on the completion of due diligence, the parties signing binding agreements, and satisfaction of the preceding conditions.

Orion’s loan facility has a tenor of up to seven years from the date of the project’s financial close. Cutfield Freeman & Co. is serving as project financing adviser to Kimberley Mineral Sands for the loan facility.

Sheffield Resources executive chair Bruce Griffin said: “Sheffield is extremely pleased with the support shown by Orion as a cornerstone finance partner.

“In partnership with our joint venture partner Yansteel, we look forward to satisfying the conditions required to utilise these facilities, reaching financial close, making a Final Investment Decision, completing the construction phase and moving into production.”

Sheffield Resources revealed that it had cash reserves of A$40m ($28m) as at 30 June 2022 for funding its A$36m ($25m) equity contribution towards the project development.

The company claimed that the Thunderbird project will produce a high-quality suite of mineral sands concentrate products suited to market needs. The products include a zircon concentrate as well as a magnetic concentrate which contain a high-quality ilmenite that can be smelted into chloride slag or for producing titanium dioxide pigment.