Sheffield Resources begins Thunderbird ore processing ahead of schedule

Thunderbird wet concentrator plant.
Thunderbird wet concentrator plant.

Sheffield Resources (ASX:SFX) has begun ore processing at the Thunderbird mineral sands project in WA ahead of schedule.

The initial stages of ore processing will see a gradual ramp up through to steady state processing, production of concentrates and building of concentrate product stockpiles on site and at the port of Broome.

Sheffield expects the first shipment of concentrate will be loaded early in Q1 2024.

Executive chair Bruce Griffin commented on the achievement.

“Delivery of a greenfield mining project in Australia can be a challenging experience, particularly for a junior miner,” he said.

“Overcoming these hurdles, especially in the current inflationary environment to deliver first ore production ahead of schedule and under budget and without lost time injury is an outstanding achievement that each and every one associated with Thunderbird should be incredibly proud of.

“With production activities now underway at Thunderbird, Kimberley Mineral Sands are now focused on accumulating concentrate stockpiles to enable delivery of the forecast first shipment of product early in the new year.”

Located in the Kimberley region of WA, Thunderbird is the first significant heavy mineral sand deposit to be discovered in the Canning Basin and is one of the largest and highest-grade mineral sands deposits globally.

The deposit contains valuable heavy minerals including ilmenite, anatase, zircon, rutile and leucoxene.

The two-stage development pathway sees the initial stage one mining and processing feed rate forecast at 1085 dry tph at the wet concentrate plant (WCP) with stage two doubling the WCP feed rate to 2170tph during year five of operations.

Stage one and two of operations is estimated to produce 1.4mtpa of zircon and ilmenite concentrates over an estimated mine life of 36 years.