South Australia’s first common-user export facility, Lucky Bay in Spencer Gulf, is set to become a reality after the South Australian Minister for Planning John Rau issued planning approval for the project.

The comprehensive process of planning approval through the South Australian Development Assessment Commission (DAC) was successfully concluded, with amendments sought by the company approved and issued on Friday, November 29.

Emerging Australian iron ore producer IronClad Mining said that the crucial government approval was the ‘government green light’ for the Wilcherry Hill Iron Ore Project on South Australia’s Eyre Peninsula.

In a South Australian first, IronClad will use the export facility - at Lucky Bay, near Cowell, about 150km south of the Wilcherry Hill mine, near Kimba - to store and ship iron ore to an offshore vessel using a unique loading system it has developed.

“This is a significant milestone in the history of this company,” IronClad’s managing director Robert Mencel says. “We now have all regulatory approvals in place which allows us to commence the Wilcherry Hill Iron Ore Project. With the last link of the infrastructure chain now completed - we can now accelerate and finalize our current financial negotiations to ensure the project commences as soon as practical.

“We thank the District Council of Franklin Harbour and the people of Lucky Bay and Cowell for their ongoing support for this project. We also appreciate the support of Mineral Resources and Energy Minister Tom Koutsantonis and his team, led by Paul Heithersay from the Department of Manufacturing, Industry, Trade, and Resources & Energy, throughout this approval process.

IronClad sought amendments to its original Development Application, which had already been approved by the SA Government, after an internal review identified significant cost and operating efficiency improvements.  This included a $21 million saving through a reduction the number of containers required to store ore, by introducing a buffer storage facility, and speeding up barge loading/unloading and cycle times through design and equipment selection.

Iron ore will now be transported via road from the mine and stockpiled at a bulk storage facility about 1km from the common-user export facility, where it will then be loaded into covered containers before being road-transported to Lucky Bay and loaded by crane onto barges.

Tugs will then transport the barges to a trans-shipment point about 5.5 nautical miles out to sea where another barge equipped with crane will transfer the containerized ore into the export vessel moored alongside the crane barge.

Once in the hold of the vessel, each container is then tipped upside down by the crane to empty its contents. A dust suppression system on the vessel will control dust emissions. The export vessel will be anchored in such a position that its hull creates a ‘lee’ - or calmer water – against the waves, ensuring the crane barge can safely operate in most weather conditions.

The Wilcherry Hill project is an 80:20 JV between IronClad and Trafford Resources, and was formed to develop iron ore mining at the project and the JV’s adjoining iron ore and manganese deposits.

Robert Mencel says talks have been under way for some time with a number of parties to assist IronClad raise $22 million it requires for Stage One of the Wilcherry Hill Iron Ore Project, including about $4-7 million for the multi-user export shipping facility at Lucky Bay. He says those negotiations could now be finalized as all regulatory approvals are now in place.

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