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GR Engineering has won a $179.5 million contract with Kimberley Mineral Sands (KMS) for a processing plant at the Thunderbird operations in Western Australia.

The engineering, procurement and construction (EPC) contract will begin with limited work until a final investment decision (FID) is made by KMS to pursue the project.

The FID is expected in mid-2022 and the project would then be delivered over about 18 months.

GR Engineering managing director Geoff Jones said he was proud to continue the relationship with KMS at the Thunderbird operations.

“We are extremely please to have been engaged to perform a key role in the development of the world-class Thunderbird mineral sands project,” Jones said.

“GR Engineering has been associated with the project over a number of years and it is exciting to see this project progress to the next stage of development.

“GR Engineering looks forward to KMS emerging as a significant new global producer in the mineral sands sector.”

KMS has been engaged with GR Engineering for the Thunderbird project since 2017, giving the latter a good understanding of the project.

In 2018, GR Engineering was awarded a similar $366 million EPC contract at Thunderbird to commission and test a wet concentrate plant, mineral separation plant, low temperature roasting plant, administration buildings, bore fields and high voltage power distribution.

KMS – and by extension, the Thunderbird operation – is a joint venture between Sheffield Resources and TGH Australia Investment.

Upon announcing the contract with GR Engineering, Sheffield also announced an offtake agreement with Yansteel for all of the stage one magnetic concentrate volume from the Thunderbird project.

This means 80 per cent of the revenue from stage one production has been covered by offtake contracts for KMS.