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BCI Minerals has received Australian Government backing for its Mardie salt and potash project in Western Australia.

The project has been granted major project status following confidence that it would help strengthen domestic supply chains and export opportunities.

The status will provide BCI with a single entry point for commonwealth government approvals, project support and coordination.

BCI expects to produce 4.4 million tonnes of high purity salt and 120,000 tonnes of potash fertiliser a year.

It involves the construction of infrastructure that includes a multi-user port facility, ponds, two processing plants, accommodation and supporting infrastructure.

A new transshipment port within the Cape Preston West Port area will enable exports from the Mardie project facilities.

The port will also be available to others, potentially unlocking further deposits of iron ore and other minerals in the region, according to Minister for Industry, Science and Technology Karen Andrews.

“Not only will the development create about 450 jobs during construction and 200 jobs over its operating life, it will also support critical supply chains and deliver exciting export opportunities,” she said.

Minister for Resources, Water and Northern Australia Keith Pitt added that the Karratha, Dampier and Onslow communities would reap significant economic benefits from this project.

“Projects such as this are important to the economic health of regional communities in the north and complement the Australian Government’s efforts to develop northern Australia,” he said.

BCI managing director Alwyn Vorster was pleased with the Australian Government’s recognition and granting of a major project status, stating that the Tier 1 project could deliver significant benefits to Australia and the Pilbara region over many decades.

“The Australian Government’s support will make a meaningful contribution to ensuring this can occur,” Vorster said.

“The development of Mardie will deliver substantial long-term public benefits over a potential operating life of 100 years in the form of significant employment and contracting opportunities.”

BCI plans to progress the Mardie project to final investment decision early next year, and commence project construction by May 2021.

The company has divested its non-core iron ore assets, including the Buckland project and the Kumina deposit to Mineral Resources to advance the Mardie project.