The Chandler Project is located in regional central Australia approximately 120 km south of Alice Springs in the Northern Territory (NT).
The Chandler Project is Australia’s first proposed underground salt mine and deep geological waste repository in a 500-million-year-old halite (salt) bed.
Stage of development
An Environmental Impact Statement (EIS) was prepared to support the approval of the Chandler Project under the Environment Protection and Biodiversity Conservation Act 1999 (Cwlth) (EPBC Act) and under the Mining Management Act 2001 (NT) (MM Act), the Environmental Assessment Act 1982 (NT) (EA Act) and the Waste Management Pollution Control Act 1998 (NT) (WMPC Act).
Ministerial approval from the Australian Government was granted via EPBC 2012/6684 on 5 September 2018. The Chandler Project was also recommended for approval (subject to strict conditions of consent) by the NT Environment Protection Authority (NT EPA) via Recommendations Report (83) on 30 November 2017.
Tellus has completed a Pre-feasibility Study (PFS) (FEL2.5) and is progressing to a Bankable Feasibility Study (BFS) (FEL 3).
An initial 25-year operating licence, but with the potential for multiple generations with rolling approval extension. It has the potential to be the NT’s longest life project.
About geological repositories
The location of the proposed development envelope was specifically chosen based on key requirements for a dual-use deep geological repository for salt mining and hazardous waste storage and permanent isolation (disposal), namely: a thick, flat, continuous salt bed, easy to mine and scalable; high-grade, export-quality salt; close to infrastructure; and with favourable project economics.
The site also meets international best practice requirements for a deep geological repository for hazardous waste storage, recovery and permanent isolation purposes.
Tellus completed comprehensive site investigations to support project approvals and technical studies. These included:
- Review of 14 oil and gas wells (29 km of drilling)
- Interpretation of 15 seismic lines (145 km), two oil and gas wells (6.6 km)
- Resource drilling program (drilled two holes and 1,937 m) with measured JORC resource estimated
- Water investigation drilling program (eight holes- six investigation and two production investigation)
- Installation of five surface water hydrographic stations and an automatic weather station
- Three pilot processing trials (two dry processing; benchtop and 70 kg to 95.4 per cent NaCl [Germany], wet processing 30 kg to 99.7 per cent NaCl [USA])
- Multiple other studies including biodiversity, cultural heritage, air quality and human health, and social and economic impact assessments
- Multiple international benchmark trips (United Kingdom, Germany, United States and Canada)
Tellus has approval (subject to conditions) over 25 years to:
- Mine up to 750,000 tonnes per annum (tpa) of halite (salt)
- Receive up to 400,000 tpa of hazardous waste at the facility gate, subject to licence conditions
- The salt can be used in the edible and industrial markets
- Tellus plans to build a circular economy park at the Chandler Facility to recover valuable materials, the technologies used will be dependent on the waste received and the technical and economic viability and will be subject to an additional approval process
- About 270 jobs created during the construction phase of the project
- Between 150 to 180 jobs created during the operation phase of the project
- Roster two weeks on and one week off, 12-hour day shift (two shifts per day). Full operations take place during the two weeks on, and only a minimal management and truck-unloading crew present for the one week when most staff are off-site
- Tellus has a policy of buying local and hiring local (where possible)
Tellus has received the following main approvals:
- Ministerial approval from the Australian Government in September 2018 via EPBC 2012/6684 under the EPBC Act
- Recommendation for approval (subject to strict conditions of consent) by the NT EPA in November 2017 via Recommendations Report (83) under the EA Act
Three government level’s recognition
Independent technical reviews
Stakeholders have been engaged using a range of consultation and communication techniques including face-to-face meetings, workshops, interviews, community information sessions, telephone and email communications, we well as media releases and website updates. Numerous meetings have been held with key stakeholders (including indigenous and local communities) and with government agencies in Titjikala, Alice Springs, Darwin and Canberra.
Chandler’s waste acceptance criteria
Hazardous waste from a broad spectrum of industrial sectors, including mining, oil and gas, contaminated site remediation, and utilities (including waste utilities that gather residential hazardous waste during local government collections). Tellus’ Chandler Facility would not accept any nuclear waste, or waste streams falling under low-level (LLW), intermediate (ILW) or high-level (HLW) radioactive waste designations. However, for total clarity, most things in nature contain naturally occurring radioactive material (NORM) and hence by default, Tellus would accept NORM. The Chandler Facility would be a State Emergency Services facility that could take diverse waste types from man-made and natural disasters.
What is hazardous waste and what type of chemical wastes would Tellus accept at the Chandler Facility?
Waste acceptance jurisdiction
Hazardous waste that would be accepted at the Chandler Facility would be sourced from states and territories within Australia and from Australia’s Exclusive Economic Zone. International waste could be accepted as per Australia’s obligations under the Basel Convention (Regulation of Transboundary Movements) and Waigani Convention (Regulation of Exports and Imports).
Access to and from the Chandler Facility from Alice Springs would be via an upgrade to Maryvale Road and a portion of Chambers Pillar Road. The upgrade would be undertaken by the NT Government and co-funded by Tellus. The Chandler Facility is also located near the Central Australian Railway.
- Type – underground mining
- Design – room and pillar
- Method – continuous miner
- Access – shafts for salt and people and decline for waste (decline is second egress)
- All weather (available 365 days/year)
- Once the facility is full, it would be backfilled, capped, rehabilitated and monitored during an institutional control period (ICP)
Assurance and insurance
Tellus has an established and costed assurance framework and insurance policies following extensive government consultation and is in the process of getting an international assurance peer review completed.