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A salt mining company has signed an agreement with Indonesian business PT Damarco Internasional to supply 70 per cent of salt produced from its Central Australian mine.
Tellus Holdings managing director Duncan van der Merwe said the deal underpinned the project's viability and, pending environmental approval, construction of the operation should begin later this year.
Mr van der Merwe said a projected mine life of more than 500 years could make it one of Australia's longest, and a significant amount of jobs would be offered.
"We estimate the construction phase will require between 280 and 350 jobs," he said.
"During the production phase we are still modelling 180 jobs. One of the advantages of our salt business is that it's a mine it, crush it, bag it and ship it business which is not high-tech at all."
The mine site is located 120 kilometres south of Alice Springs, near the Aboriginal community of Titjikala.
Jobs required for construction and then production would be available to all applicants, Mr van der Merwe said.
Some of the jobs on offer for the mine and the attached underground storage business will include forklift drivers, cherry-picker operators and tractor drivers.
Agreement is a major milestone, business model soundThe agreement to supply almost three quarters of the salt forecast to be produced by the mine is a "major commercial milestone", Mr van der Merwe said.
He said he was comfortable with the commercial terms of the deal.
Mr van der Merwe said the business model was not to compete with other salt suppliers purely on the basis of volume or the ability to achieve economies of scale.
"We are a niche, high-value and reliable supplier of salt. We are what is referred to as a swing producer," he said.
"Being a swing producer, we come in when large Western Australian solar-evaporative salt ponds are down for up to six months because of the impact of cyclones.
"Swing producers like us — when you have a spot-price increase — kick in and supply during those peaks and troughs," he said.
Environmental approval process on trackMr van der Merwe said the company was currently going through the government environmental approval processes.
"We have an opportunity in two weeks time in Alice Springs for the public to raise concerns and identify opportunities," he said.
Regulatory work over the past few years provided data that indicated the project "had no fatal flaws".
"We are working closely with multiple community stakeholders and to date we have neutral to broad support," he said.
This article first appeared on www.abc.net.au
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