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Nathan River Resources has received backing from London-listed Amur Minerals and Glencore to progress its Roper Bar iron ore project in the Northern Territory.

The open-cut iron ore mine in the Roper Gulf region had been in care and maintenance since 2015 before Nathan River Resources took over its management in 2017.

Following the grant of necessary approvals from the Northern Territory Government in May, Nathan River Resources expects the mine to commence operations in the third quarter of 2020.

Amur will invest $US4.67 million ($6.5 million) to retain up to a 19 per cent stake in Nathan River. The Russia-focussed mineral exploration company stated on Twitter that iron ore was the best performing commodity of 2020.

“Demand out of China is expected to remain strong as continued stimulus measures are taken,” the company stated.

“Nathan River Resources’ Roper Bar project is located nearby and with access to the major iron ore market of China.”

Amur chief executive Robin Young added that rarely did opportunities avail themselves where very near-term accretive value and cashflows were available to a mineral resource company.

“Our due diligence has confirmed that there are several positive components that offer such upside potential,” he said.

“Key to the successful restart of the Roper Bar project, Nathan River Resource’s management team is highly experienced in iron ore production.”

Amur gives further credit to the Roper Bar project due to Nathan River’s long-term offtake agreement with Glencore via the operator’s trading company in Singapore.

The trading company will be responsible for the distribution of iron ore from Roper Bar.

“The long-term offtake agreement with Glencore, one of the world’s largest global diversified natural resource companies provides us with security by having a partner of substantial import,” Young said.

“… The current near production status allows for a rapid resumption of the production and shipping of direct shipping ore as substantial stockpiles of high-quality iron ore are currently ready for loading and transport to the Chinese market.”

Amur plans to use the cashflow from its investment to progress its Kun-Manie nickel-copper project in the far east of Russia.

Nathan River estimated that around one million tonnes of high-grade iron ore would be mined and exported from Roper Bar’s existing open pit mines.