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Mardie trial pond construction begins

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World Fertilizer,

BCI Minerals has announced that its northern embankment trial at its Mardie salt and potash project in Western Australia is nearing completion, construction of its southern trial pond is commencing and the contract has been awarded for the main seawater pump structure.

These investigative works are an essential precursor to main construction to provide confidence about key assumptions, including materials availability, construction methodology, pond wall settlement, pumping rates, pond floor water retention, and cost and schedule assumptions.

Construction of the northern embankment trial is nearing completion, with only outer wall geofabric and rock-armour treatment remaining. The trial has proven the construction methodologies, demonstrated that budgeted productivity is achievable and highlighted opportunities to optimise productivity.

At the southern trial pond, seawalls will be constructed on three sides with an internal levee separating the trial pond (future Pond 0) from future Pond 1. Geofabric will span the 20 m width of the embankment basesto provide stability for the three-metre-high clay layer walls which will be protected from the ocean currents by rock armour. The southern trial pond will incorporate construction methodology, materials and equipment learnings from the northern embankment trial.

Construction of the civil works will form part of a broader contract awarded to WBHO Infrastructure in March 2021 which includes the northern embankment trial, southern trial pond, and after full regulatory and access approvals, Pond 1 and Pond 2.

A AUS$16 million contract for the main seawater pump structure has been awarded to Western Australian company Ertech’s Geomarine business, which specialises in designing and constructing near shore marine infrastructure for the resources, infrastructure and defence sectors. The contract is fully funded from BCI’s existing cash balance of AUS$110 million at 31 July 2021.

The work involves the design, procurement, construction, and commissioning of all the detailed earthworks, piling, structural steel, concrete, mechanical and electrical installations required to accommodate and operate six 3000 litres per second pumps within the pump structure. When the project is fully operational, the primary seawater pump station will pump 160GL of water into the evaporation ponds each year, equivalent to approximately 70 000 Olympic swimming pools.

To support these investigative early works, expansion of the 80-bed exploration camp is proceeding. Fabrication of buildings is underway, and the first units have been delivered to site with village contractor, McNally Mining and Resources, commencing excavation for utilities and building foundations. Commissioning of central facilities and the additional 120 rooms is scheduled for 4Q21 and will bring total rooms to 200. Following final regulatory approvals, the village will be further expanded to 400 beds to accommodate peak workforce during main construction.

Main construction of the project can only commence when BCI has received approval from the WA Minister for Environment as well as associated secondary approvals and when final tenure and funding have been secured. BCI anticipates all these to be in place by late 2021.

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