Mining company Iron Road estimates the project, which would become the largest iron ore mine in Australia, would create almost 2000 jobs during construction, and 700 jobs over its 25-year lifespan.
Energy Minister Tom Koutsantonis said through the project South Australia could reclaim the title of “the home of iron ore in Australia”.
Iron Road managing director Andrew Stocks said the mine was still to be financed, though the company had received expressions of interest in funding the mine from several of the world’s largest banks.
He said there remained “a couple of secondary approvals” to be achieved, but he was confident those would be met and construction on the mine would begin next year.
Stocks said the 6.5 kilometre-wide open cut magnetite mine would help arrest the decline in population on Eyre Peninsula.
He said the company had invested more than $150 million of research and almost a decade in preparing the project, and that “we haven’t done that just to throw that money down the drain”.
He conceded that “there’s always that risk” that the project would fail at some stage before construction begins, but that “I think it’s unlikely”.
Premier Jay Weatherill said the mine now had to meet “127 conditions” for further approval.
“If Iron Road meet the conditions of their approval this project will create thousands of jobs and have a significant, lasting impact on our economy,” he said.
He added that magnetite was “a cleaner form of iron that produced lower CO2 emissions when used to produce steel”.
This morning was Weatherill’s first formal press conference since the scandal over “grossly inappropriate” care at the state-run Oakden Older Persons Mental Health Service broke a fortnight ago.
Koutsantonis denied the timing of the news was being used as a distraction.
“I don’t consider it that at all,” he said.
“It’s a very good achievement for South Australians.”
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