All being well with the company’s Program for Environmental Protection and Rehabilitation, Rex will have everything in place to start mining at its Hillside project near Pine Point – except money.
That final hurdle, finance, was always going to determine whether the Hillside project could get off the ground.
A drop in copper prices and the associated impact on stock prices for companies like Rex caused a couple of relatively quiet years as far as local mining news has been concerned. But behind the scenes Rex has been working away at the PEPR, taking its time to address the many rules and requirements involved with potential mining projects.
And there are a lot of rules. This PEPR is an extensive document. Rex required two extensions for the PEPR deadline, totalling almost two years, to get it finished.
The plus side is that extra time allowed for more community and stakeholder consultation. This process was led by the Hillside Mine Community Voice group, which has done some great work to ensure locals understand the plan for Hillside, and their concerns have been heard.
A series of community meetings focused on various aspects of the project and provided ample opportunity for local views to inform the PEPR.
Now those who are keenly interested in the project will want to comb through the PEPR and see if their concerns have been addressed. Instead they will only see the document once the government has already made its decision.
The timing of the PEPR submission coincides with a resurgence in copper price, which is up almost 25 per cent in the past year and has been on the rise since late 2016. Australia owns 13 per cent of the world’s copper, second only to Chile, and the minerals at Hillside aren’t going anywhere.
Rex has been biding its time and now believes the copper price is high enough to get the project going. We will have to wait and see whether any investors agree.
Nick Perry, Editor