Alkane will be conducting forums in Dubbo soon Managing director of Alkane Resources Ian Chalmers will return to Dubbo from Perth next week to chair community forums on the Dubbo Zirconia Project. He is pictured during a tour earlier this year of the under-construction Tomingley Gold Project. Photo: BELINDA SOOLE
THE MOOTED re-activation of a railway line running past Dubbo homes will not necessarily get up a head of steam if and when the state government approves Alkane Resources’s $1 billion Dubbo Zirconia Project (DZP) at Toongi.
The company will hang on to the more than $30 million needed to get the Dubbo to Toongi line operational unless it is certain it can access the Port of Newcastle and get chemicals to Dubbo by rail through the “very congested” Hunter Valley.
Alkane Resources managing director Ian Chalmers reports a decision might be a “few years away, unfortunately”.
It would be preceded by consultation with Dubbo City Council and residents, “particularly those down along Margaret Crescent”.
“But at the end of the day, we’ve got to make sure it’s a viable option before we promote it,” Mr Chalmers said.
The managing director is promising details on Alkane Resources investigations into transporting chemicals at two forums next week.
Residents of Dubbo and district are being encouraged to turn out at 7pm to the Toongi Hall and Dubbo RSL Memorial Club on October 22 and 23 respectively to make comment and ask questions about the DZP Environmental Impact Statement on public exhibition until November 18.
People intending to participate are being urged to review the document at Dubbo’s Civic Administration Building or at www.planning.nsw.gov.au/on-exhibition.
A newsletter has been issued by Alkane Resources in a bid to fill the venues.
It reveals the transport hurdles ahead for the company that remains intent on launching the construction phase of the DZP from the second half of 2014 and the production phase from early 2016.
“The company is seeking flexibility from the NSW government to delay the decision on rail right through to Toongi for another few years while critical issues of reagent (chemical) supply are bedded down,” it says.
“Rail remains the preferred option for transport for nearly half of the reagents to and from the DZP, and Alkane is working on reagent logistics with prospective suppliers.
“The railway line would be used to transfer four or five key reagents from a port facility, most likely Newcastle, via Dubbo to the DZP site.
“However, unless we can be guaranteed supply from bulk storage or direct import into Newcastle, a fully utilised train service (of) three Newcastle return trips per week, and efficient and reliable train pathing on the Dubbo- Newcastle line through the coal train traffic of the Hunter Valley, rail will not be a viable option.”
From his office in Perth, Mr Chalmers yesterday said Alkane Resources’ preference was to use both road and rail for the DZP.
“Some things are better transported by road and that balances the impacts as well,” he said.
Mr Chalmers said the DZP’s next steps were not dependent on the use of rail.
“It’s got to come into the mix somewhere, but we could start without the rail component,” he said.
The managing director does not consider that the DZP would “add much” to the substantial freight traffic already on the Newell and Mitchell highways.
He said there would be a “small impact from additional truck traffic” between Dubbo and Toongi.
Alkane Resources is hoping the state government will grant development approval for the DZP by the middle of next year.
This article first appeared in Hangzhou Night Net.