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How is Australia’s next potash project tracking?

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BCI Minerals is developing the Mardie salt and potash project, located adjacent to the Pilbara coast in WA.

Speaking at BCI’s annual general meeting, managing director David Boshoff said the project sits at almost 28 per cent completion at the end of September.

“We anticipate the commencement of operations by filling ponds one and two in the second quarter of the 2023-2024 financial year, once environmental management plans are approved,” he said.

The company increased the capital estimate of Mardie to $1.4 billion plus $208 million in contingency, which served to de-risk the project.

But the sting of the cost increase is offset somewhat by offtake agreements with Asian markets and favourable market conditions.

“An anticipated shortfall in supply is expected at the time BCI will deliver our first salt on ship in mid-2026, aligning well with the salt marketing regimes in the Asian markets,” he said.

“Offtake discussions will continue through the current financial year, against the backdrop of the projected growth in demand for high-purity salt.”

Boshoff said that the company remains committed to securing full funding and the necessary environmental approvals for Mardie.

BCI chair Brian O’Donnell congratulated the Mardie team on the completion of extensive construction projects, including the completion of the primary seawater intake station, a 400-person accommodation village, a major road intersection, and five evaporation ponds.

“This progress has been promising, and we strongly believe Mardie will become one of the most sustainable, long-lasting, and naturally renewable resource projects globally, providing long-term value to shareholders and benefiting the community,” O’Donnell said.

Government backing

In August, BCI secured $650 million in debt funding from the Federal Government to help finance its Mardie project.

Mardie will be the first major salt project developed in Australia in two decades and the only Australian operation to produce commercially saleable salt.

Potash has had a spotted history in Australia, with two major projects proving unsuccessful.

Potash hopeful Kalium Lakes, which had secured $72.6 million in funding from the Northern Australia Infrastructure Facility (NAIF), went into administration.

This was preceded by the 2021 collapse of the ASX-listed Salt Lake Potash, which happened despite $US47 million ($73 million) in Government funding.

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