The Northern Australia Infrastructure Facility has agreed to provide a $450m loan to a salt and potash production facility that will create hundreds of jobs in Western Australia.
BCI Minerals’ Mardie Salt & Potash Project, located about 100km south-west of Karratha, is expected to produce more than 4 million tonnes of high purity salt and 100,000 tonnes of Sulphate of Potash fertiliser a year.
The project was granted Major Project Status by the Australian Government in August 2020 and now NAIF has approved $450m to fund infrastructure to bring the project online.
NAIF’s loan will help develop ponds, two processing plants, port and other supporting infrastructure at the Project.
The offer of funding – which means NAIF has offered more than $1 billion to projects in Western Australia – will now be considered by the Minister for Resources, Water and Northern Australia, Keith Pitt.
NAIF CEO Chris Wade said the proposed facilities would provide the opportunity to expand Australia’s chemical and agriculture industries, deliver economic impact to the region of $2 billion and create at least 450 jobs during construction and 200 operational jobs over a 60 year operating life.
“We are delighted to be able to support the development of the Mardie Salt & Potash Project which by supplying agricultural and chemical industries across Asia offers exciting export opportunities. Locally, the Project will also bring significant economic benefits to the Karratha, Dampier and Onslow areas.”
A new transhipment port within the Pilbara Ports Authority controlled Cape Preston West Port area, adjacent to the Project, will enable exports from the facility. The port will also be available to others, potentially unlocking further deposits of iron ore and other minerals in the region.
Mardie will be the first major salt operation developed in Australia in two decades and the project is believed to be the only Australian project producing both salt and SOP in commercial quantities.
NAIF works with project proponents to encourage and ensure that NAIF’s financial support will help bring a positive impact to local communities, provide positive Indigenous outcomes, and support the region and northern Australia as a whole.
In the last financial year, NAIF has made 11 Investment Decisions worth more than $1.4 billion that will lead to a broader economic benefit to northern Australia of $4 billion and more than 3500 jobs.
In Western Australia, NAIF has announced investment decisions to six other projects across a range of sectors and regions. They are the Chichester Solar Gas Hybrid Project ($90m), Onslow Marine Support Base ($16.8m), Kalium Lakes’ Beyondie SOP Project ($74m (plus an additional $10m facility), Strandline Resources’ Coburn Project ($150m), AAMC ($12.5m), and Sheffield Resources’ Thunderbird Mineral Sands Project ($95m).
NAIF’s mandate was recently extended by the Minister for Resources, Water and Northern Australia until 2026 and on 10 December 2020 the Minister also announced an additional series of reforms that following the passing of legislation will further assist in accelerating NAIF’s ability to drive economic growth in northern Australia.