Sheffield Resources has awarded an engineering, procurement and construction (EPC) contract worth A$366.3m ($263.6m) to GR Engineering Services to build a mineral processing plant for the Thunderbird Mineral Sands Project in Australia.

Wet Concentrator design

Image: Wet Concentrator of mineral processing plant of Thunderbird Mineral Sands Project. Photo: courtesy of Sheffield Resources.

The first stage of the Thunderbird Mineral Sands Project will be developed between Broome and Derby in Western Australia with an investment of A$463m ($333.2m).

Under the EPC contract, GR Engineering will handle the engineering design, procurement and construction of a 7.5 million tonne per annum (Mtpa) mineral processing plant along with supporting infrastructure.

The contract work will begin based on a full notice to proceed to GR Engineering, which will be subject to a final investment decision reached by Sheffield Resources.

GR Engineering will be responsible for a wet concentrate plant, mineral separation plant, low temperature roasting plant, bore fields and high voltage power distribution apart from all civil scope items of the proposed Thunderbird Mineral Sands Project. The company will also give operations support for a six-month term post-completion.

GR Engineering managing director Geoff Jones said: “This Contract represents an important milestone in the development of the world-class Thunderbird Mineral Sands Project.

“GR Engineering has welcomed the opportunity to contribute towards bringing the Project to an advanced pre-execution phase and is now committed to progressing its safe and successful delivery for Sheffield.”

In another development, Sheffield Resources has signed an A$240m ($175m) loan agreement with Taurus Mining Finance Fund and Taurus Mining Finance Annex Fund for the Thunderbird Mineral Sands Project.

Located on the Dampier Peninsula, nearly 60km west of Derby, and 25km north of the sealed Great Northern Hwy, the Thunderbird mineral sands deposit has a mineral resource of 3.23 billion tonnes at 6.9% HM which includes 18.6 million tonnes of zircon, 5.9 million tonnes of high-titanium leucoxene, 6.5 million tonnes of leucoxene and 61.7 million tonnes of ilmenite.

Sheffield Resources managing director Bruce McFadzean said: “Thunderbird has now secured A$335 million of loan facilities to enable the Project to proceed, including long tenor infrastructure loans from the Federal Government.

“Securing the loan facilities, combined with finalisation of the fixed price, lump sum EPC contract, in conjunction with completion of permitting, collectively build on the recent milestones achieved by Sheffield and pave the way for construction of Thunderbird to commence in the new year, following the wet season.”