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Nathan River Resources has received further approval to move the Nathan River iron ore project in the Roper Gulf region of the Northern Territory into the next stage of development.

The British Marine Group-owned company took over the former Western Desert Resources Roper Bar mine in 2017 after its previous owner went into liquidation.

The mine, an established open-cut iron ore mine southeast of Ngukurr, had been in care and maintenance since April 2015.

Nathan River received an approval to reopen the mine, ship existing stockpiled minerals and process low-grade ore in 2018.

With this latest approval now granted, Nathan River estimates around one million tonnes of high-grade iron ore will be mined and exported from the existing open pit mines, and transported via the haul road to the Bing Bong load-out facility.

Nathan River chief executive Stefan Murphy said the operations were anticipated to commence in the third quarter of this year, with more than 250 full-time positions to start across mining, haulage, marine and support functions.

“The Nathan River project is a significant mining operation for the Northern Territory, with over $250 million spent on infrastructure to date to open up iron ore mining and employment opportunities for Territorians and the Roper region,” he said.

“We now look forward to working with our partners and suppliers in the Territory to refurbish the project’s pit to port infrastructure over the coming months ahead of the resumption of iron ore exports.”

Northern Territory’s Minister for Primary Industry and Resources Paul Kirby approved Nathan River’s mining management plan, authorising the company to commence mining.

“The decision by Nathan River Resources to invest in this project is a welcome boost for the resources sector, the Territory’s economy and job opportunities for local people,” the minister said.

The Nathan River Resources staff are working on site in critical maintenance roles under an approved COVID-19 management plan.

Additional staff will be required when mining operations commence, with an additional COVID-19 management plan to be submitted to and approved by the Northern Territory chief health officer should travel restrictions be in place at such time.