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The construction of the Thunderbird mineral sands project is approaching completion, according to Sheffield Resources.

The Thunderbird project is located midway between Broome and Derby in northern Western Australia. It is the first significant heavy mineral sand deposit to be discovered in the Canning Basin and is one of the largest and highest-grade mineral sands deposits globally.

Thunderbird is owned by Kimberley Mineral Sands, a 50/50 joint venture between Sheffield Resources and Yansteel.

As well as the project’s construction almost being completed within the $484 million final investment decision (FID) budget, the commissioning of its key service areas is underway, with its plant commissioning scheduled to commence during the September quarter.

Other Thunderbird updates provided by Sheffield Resources included:

  • the construction of the wet concentrate plant and concentrate upgrade plant being primarily complete
  • the commissioning of the borefields, water and flocculant services and air services currently underway
  • the tailings storage facility earthworks being completed
  • water is now successfully being pumped from the borefields to the stormwater storage pond
  • waste mining activities are progressing ahead of planned mobilisation of mining contractor Piacentini & Son during this quarter
  • the construction of the dry mining unit (DMU) by Piacentini & Son is well advanced, with the mobilisation and site assembly scheduled for later this quarter
  • the commencement of ore mining and sequential commissioning of the DMU and process plant is expected to occur during the December quarter
  • and the first customer shipment remains on track for the first quarter of the 2024 financial year (Q1 2024).

“We’re excited by the commencement of commissioning activities at Thunderbird,” Sheffield Resources executive chair Bruce Griffin said.

“The Kimberley mineral sands team and their contractors have done an excellent job with construction, maintaining expenditures within the planned funding envelope $484 million, which is a superb achievement. With commissioning now underway, we look forward to the forecast first shipment of product in Q1 2024.”