The official reopening of mining at the Riverland’s Mindarie heavy mineral sands mines in South Australia clearly demonstrates the benefits provided by China’s investment in the state.
Premier Jay Weatherill believes the investment by Murray Zircon not only rehabilitated the former heavy sands mine but is already creating jobs and improved services for the local economy.
“It is tremendously satisfying to celebrate the resumption of mining at Mindarie – as South Australia’s first active mine, now under majority ownership of a Chinese company. Murray Zircon’s Chinese parent, Orient Zirconic, has a long-term view to investing through the entire value chain from this mine site to factory,” Mr Weatherill said.
The long-term strategy adopted by Murray Zircon is similar to South Australia’s commitment to building its advanced manufacturing capabilities through value-adding, Mr Weatherill noted.
“Most impressively, from South Australia’s viewpoint, is that zircon shipped from this mine is increasingly making its way into many specialist products and applications.”
According to a report from the South Australian Government, the Mindarie mine has a workforce of about 140 jobs; 60 staff directly employed on site, and a further 80 contractors – making it a significant regional employer.
“Another positive development is the new on-site accommodation for more than 50 employees,” he said. Along with accommodation, the company is also working with local government to secure a much-needed telecommunications tower for the area.
Minister for Mineral Resources and Energy Tom Koutsantonis believes as part of its acquisition Murray Zircon has assumed the high cost of rehabilitating the former mine’s operations.
“Murray Zircon from the outset committed to a technical program that would complete the rehabilitation of the land disturbed by the former mine operators. The expertise of independent agronomists has led to the introduction of some innovative approaches to reshape the soil profile here at Mindarie,” Mr Koutsantonis said.
Murray Zircon was formed in 2011 with majority ownership by the Orient Zirconic Science and Technology Industry Co. Ltd. from Guangdong Province. Murray Zircon acquired the mineral sands mine which had been under care and maintenance since 2009 after the previous operator Australian Zircon revealed it was going into voluntary administration.