Tellus salt project announced

  • On : March 16, 2012

Media Release

APPROVED FOR RELEASE

Key points:

  • Tellus discovers one of Australia’s largest underground salt deposits.
  • Sample analysis shows high grade halite that can be used for edible and industrial salt.
  • Plus attractive associated minerals that can be used in fertilisers and industrial applications.
  • Plus complementary businesses that add further value to the salt.
  • Tellus plans to build Australia’s first underground rock salt mine.
  • This project could become one of the longest life mines in Australia.
  • This creates the potential for investment and jobs for generations.

A proposed underground salt mine in Central Australia could generate major benefits for Alice Springs, according to the Managing Director of Tellus Holdings, Duncan van der Merwe.

“We believe we have discovered one of Australia’s largest salt deposits in Central Australia, comprising thick salt beds and salt domes,” Mr van der Merwe said.

Tellus hopes to develop Australia’s first underground salt mine on one of the several exploration licences it has near Titjikala, on Maryvale Station, 100-120 kilometres south of Alice Springs, in the Northern Territory.

The project should also provide substantial research and business opportunities for Alice Springs business and research institutions, including community development, Indigenous employment and training, renewable energy and micro-business opportunities, such as bush foods.

Tellus has used the results of historic oil and gas exploration to identify several extensive salt beds in Central Australia as salt and oil and gas beds tend to occur together.

The results suggest the Chandler salt bed formation has very high grade halite that can be used for edible and industrial salt. It also contains minerals that can be used in fertilisers and industrial applications,” Mr van der Merwe said.

Tellus is completing a prefeasibility study and plans to conduct drilling later this year to confirm the resource.

Should the mine go ahead, it would produce high quality rock salt, or halite, which would be processed on site, trucked to the nearby railway and mostly exported to Asia where edible and industrial salt are in demand for products such as chloralkali, soda ash, water treatment and livestock.

Tellus is also looking at a processing and packaging plant for edible gourmet salts and other specialty salt products that could be in Alice Springs.

Sample core analysis shows the salt deposit also probably contains valuable minerals like magnesium and we have also picked up interesting traces of potash (used in fertilisers),” Mr van der Merwe said.

Mr van der Merwe said salt mining was a low impact activity that would have a small surface footprint and little visual impact.

However, the benefits from the mine were far greater than for other types of mining because of the range of local business opportunities it could provide.

“Salt is used for everything from foods to pharmaceuticals to industrial products,” he said. Tellus is also exploring a hybrid diesel/solar salt battery power station. Salt batteries are ideal for generating solar energy and could meet the mine’s own base load power as well as meeting the needs of neighbouring communities.

“There is potential for Alice Springs to become not just a solar city, but a salt city,” Mr van der Merwe said.

Once the salt has been mined, the rooms left from mining can be used to store equipment, archives, bulk material and mining and industry waste. For example Tellus plans to sell industrial salts (drilling fluid salts) to the oil and gas industry. The salts get mixed with drilling muds and Tellus brings those mixed salts back in safe containers for safe storage in the salt mine. This is responsible product stewardship,” he said.

“The advantage of salt for responsible storage is that it has been there for hundreds of millions of years and will be stable for millions more years. If it wasn’t stable, water would have permeated and the salt would have dissolved,” he said.

Mr van der Merwe said Tellus Holdings would consult with traditional owners and the community before making any decisions on the project.

“Tellus is planning an initial mine life of 25 years, which is likely to be extended by another 25 years. However the underground deposit is so huge that the potential mine life is virtually limitless,” Mr van der Merwe said.

About Tellus Holdings

Tellus Holdings Pty Ltd (“Tellus”) is an Australian-owned mining company adding value to underground rock salt. Tellus is the parent of a group of companies involved in the mining, processing and sale of industrial and edible salts, fertilisers and minerals. Potential complementary businesses include storage in voids created by mining and warehouse storage. (see www.tellusholdings.com.au)

For further information contact:

Duncan van der Merwe, Managing Director on 02 9241 7678
Jane Munday, Michels Warren Munday on 0427 880 083.