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Mining boom

Wednesday, 2nd February, 2011

Rasp mine Chief Operating Officer, Visko Sulicich, at the newly-approved project site yesterday Rasp mine Chief Operating Officer, Visko Sulicich, at the newly-approved project site yesterday

Rasp operation to generate $2 billion plus over 16 years

By Stefan Delatovic

CBH Resources' $150 million Rasp mine project was given final development approval by the NSW Government yesterday morning.

Construction of the mine site will begin next month with mining expected to begin in the middle of next year. 

The silver, lead and zinc mine is expected to directly employ 160 people during the operation and create 85 jobs during the construction phase.

In approving the site, the NSW Government has imposed strict dust management controls on the operation.

Chief Operating Officer for the Rasp project, Visko Sulicich, said approval was very good news for the company, and the city.

"We're elated. It's been a long and drawn out process, and after all that it's a good feeling to be approved," he said.

During the approval process the project has elicited concerns from nearby residents about the transport of materials and the creation of dust, and Mr Sulicich said yesterday that approval had come with a number of conditions.

"Given that we're located in the middle of the city, we have a strict environmental monitoring regime," he said.

"We're quite comfortable that we can deliver what is requested of us," he said.

The Rasp mine has an expected life of 16 years, with 8.45 million tonnes of ore to be extracted and processed. CBH expects capital costs of $150 million over the first two years.

Western Australian firm GRES Engineering has already been appointed to do the necessary design work.

Underground development is expected to start in April, but activity above ground is expected to start almost immediately.

Mr Sulicich said CBH had received a "tremendous amount of support from Mayor Wincen Cuy and Local Member John Williams throughout the entire approvals process".

Development is subject to the board approval of CBH's parent company Toho Zinc.

CBH Managing Director Stephen Dennis said yesterday that approval was an "important milestone" for the company.

NSW Planning Minister Tony Kelly said the project would provide significant economic and employment benefits to the city and the State, as it had almost continuously since the 1880s.

"This approval ensures economic benefits will continue to flow, particularly for the around 250 workers who will be employed through the project's construction and operation," he said.

"It's also estimated that an additional 350 jobs will be supported in the broader Broken Hill area through various support services for the mine and other economic flow-on effects."

Under conditions imposed by Mr Kelly, The Rasp mine site will be rehabilitated to minimise dust and keep tourist operations going both during and after production, with equipment deemed to have heritage value planned to be re-used whenever possible.

CBH will be required to continuously monitor air quality and community dust levels, and make their findings publicly available.

Mr Kelly said the Department of Planning had comprehensively assessed the proposal.

"Importantly, the assessment found that the Rasp mine's operation would not represent a significant factor in regard to lead levels and human health impacts," he said.

"This is, of course, a key issue that must be front and centre of any consideration for mining approval in Broken Hill and the Department's assessment thoroughly addressed this issue."

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