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Construction has commenced on Australia’s largest solar salt project

Published by , Editorial Assistant
World Fertilizer,

BCI Minerals celebrated the official commencement of construction on 25 March 2022 at the Mardie Project site, 100 km southwest of Karratha, Australia. Premier of Western Australia, the Honourable Mark McGowan MLA, joined members of the BCI Board, leadership team and local stakeholders to officially launch the construction milestone. BCI’s Chair, Brian O’Donnell, said at the ceremony: “After many years of project derisking, studies and approvals, construction commencement is an exciting milestone on the path of creating Australia’s largest solar salt project that will rank third in scale globally.”

SRG Global acquisition of WBHO Infrastructure

The Western Australian headquartered engineering, mining services and construction group SRG Global completed its acquisition of WBHO Infrastructure (‘WBHO’), now called SRG Global Infrastructure, on 31 March 2022. BCI confirms that SRG will continue with the Mardie construction contract for walls and levees for Ponds 0, 1, and 2. The contractor for the seawater intake facility remains Ertech Geomarine.

Market outlook

BCI expects that the current inflationary pressures on construction inputs such as fuel, labour, transport, and equipment will lead to increased capital cost for particularly the civil component of the Project. At the same time, BCI notes the strong increases in salt and sulfate of potash (SOP) prices since the completion of the Mardie feasibility studies in mid-2021. Since that time, the average contract price of Australian salt imported into Asia (based on government trade information) has increased by more than 20% to approximately US$50/t (CIF), with even higher spot prices being realised in China. In addition, the SOP price has increased in this period by more than 70% to around US$930/t (FOB Europe).

Commenting on the construction and commodity price environment, BCI’s Managing Director, Alwyn Vorster said: “Cost pressures are evident across the mining and construction sectors in Western Australia. We are closely monitoring and managing our contracts and are reviewing the inflationary impact on the total Mardie capital cost. We are also reviewing our long-term commodity price assumptions and will advise the market when this work is complete. It is our expectation that even with these increasing cost pressures, the Mardie Project financial returns over multiple decades will remain attractive.” An updated estimate of total project capital cost and projected financial returns is expected to be released before 30 June 2022.

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