IT WAS an emotional day for the King Island community as the first sod was turned on the reborn Dolphin Tungsten Mine at Grassy.
G6M management and staff were joined by State and Federal MPs, investors, shareholders, Mayor Julie Arnold and guests to witness the historic event Executive chairman Johann Jacobs and Tasmanian Resources Minister Guy Barnett had the honour of “turning the first sod” a symbolic action that marked the beginning of a new era for the mine and Australia.
It has also signalled a world of new possibilities for the island.
“This is a huge opportunity for our small King Island economy,” Mayor Julie Arnold said with a hint of raw emotion in her voice.
“I sincerely welcome Group 6 Metals to King Island. “You are now one of us.”
Minister Barnett and Federal Member for Braddon, Gavin Pearce congratulated Mr Jacobs and investors for reaching this milestone and recognised their perseverance and the importance of the mine in the King Island, Tasmanian and Australian economies.
“It is an exciting day for State, Federal and Local governments,” Mr Barnett said. “The State Government support is a vote of confidence in the island.
A day like today makes me proud. Today is putting a vision into action.”
He emphasised the importance of the 90 jobs that the mine will create.
There will be 65 ongoing jobs, and 75% of these will be local.
He said that the current mine production life is estimated to be estimated eight years above ground and six years under ground.
The consistent message from all speakers was that tungsten is a critical mineral and is part of the renewable energy and technology sectors and has an essential role in the future of Australia.
The Dolphin Tungsten Mine closed in 1992 due to extremely low prices for the resource.
Mr Pearce recognised not only the importance of the mine reopening but the significance of reopening for the island.
“My uncle owned King Island Transport Co., I know firsthand,” he said.
“The Scheelite mine was the lifeblood of the island and when it closed… it devastated the place, and many have lived in that legacy.”
Mr Pearce said he had faith that the mine would be world’s best practice and mine in the most environmentally responsible way.
It has taken ten years of hard work and investment of more than $90 million to get to the opening.
Mr Jacobs acknowledged all those involved in bringing the vision to fruition.
“Critical minerals are of economic importance, they are used in everyday life,” Mr Jacobs said.
“They are critical as 80% are produced in China.
“This makes them critical for the western world.
“Tungsten is unsubstitutable. “Currently 20% of production is used in car manufacturing, not in, but to cut metal; it’s needed for drills to build roads, tunnels; in carbide bits, 3D printing, wind turbine manufacture, carbide bits, 3D printing, mobile phones, and emerging technologies.
“We have to mine more tungsten to go green.”
The mine is expected to produce first concentrate in the March quarter of 2023.