It’s remote, desolate and worth billions

2595 Verdant Amadeus OKBy ERWIN CHLANDA

 

Flying to The Rock from Alice? Ask for a right-hand window seat: About half way you’ll see the Finke, the oldest river in the world, twisting its way out of the West MacDonnell Ranges.

 

Soon, now just 30 nautical miles from the Ayers Rock Resort, you’ll see Lake Amadeus, a blindingly bright expanse usually called a salt lake, mostly dry and devoid of any sign of human presence, not even a track.

 

Yet you’re looking at what could be one of the largest potassium brine deposits in the world, potentially worth billions of dollars.

 

“A project of this nature could provide substantial employment and royalties to both traditional owners and the Northern Territory,” says Chris Tziolis, Managing Director of Verdant Minerals Ltd.

 

The company, which has recently received green light for its Ammaroo phosphate project 270 km north-east of Alice Springs, has exploration licence (EL) applications over Amadeus.

 

This is at a time when many traditional sources of phosphate for fertilisers, including those at Nauru, are all but exhausted.

 

2591 Verdant OKSulphate of Potash (SOP) as well as magnesium sulphate are deposited in Lake Amadeus. They are used to make high-end fertilisers for crops sensitive to chloride or susceptible to fertiliser burn: Apples, tomatoes, the list is long.

 

Australia currently imports all of its potash requirements.

 

Lake Amadeus is on Aboriginal Land. The traditional owners, in late June 2016, exercised their right of veto over exploration and development under the Aboriginal Land Rights Act for the ensuing five years.

 

“Verdant Minerals remains the applicant over that period at zero cost,” says Mr Tziolis.

 

After that period the Act provides for a system of external adjudication if an agreement is not reached. Aborigines stand to gain royalties of at least 10% under the Act.

 

Potassium salts could be produced from the brines (salty water) that lies in aquifers beneath the lake, says Mr Tziolis.

 

“It is not a mining project but rather the extraction of water that enables the product to be produced through solar evaporation and some processing of the remaining salts.”

 

The product could be trucked east on the Lasseter Highway, connecting up with the north-south railway, taking it to the Australian market, or via Darwin, to the rest of the world.

 

2595 Verdant Lasseter OK“The company’s longer term vision is that the phosphate and potassium resources of the NT can be developed, and combined with its gas, produce nitrogen based fertilisers to create a Northern Territory based integrated fertiliser industry, serving the growing needs of both Asia and Australia,” says Mr Tziolis

 

Although the deposit is not as thick, the precious product also occurs in a string of “salt lakes” known as Karinga Lakes stretching from the eastern end of Amadeus all the way to the Stuart Highway, paralleling the Lasseter Highway.

 

Verdant has an EL application over that territory as well, as it has over Lake Frome, on the South Stuart Highway in SA.

 

Between those patches the company could be putting The Centre on the world map, at least so far as providing vital necessities for growing food are concerned.

 

 

 

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3 Comments (starting with the most recent)

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  1. Ian Sharp
    Posted November 8, 2018 at 2:19 pm

    There is also a project envisaged for Lake Mackay near the WA border. Geoscience Australia has some background info on potash.

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  2. Al
    Posted November 8, 2018 at 11:48 am

    “The traditional owners, in late June 2016, exercised their right of veto over exploration and development under the Aboriginal Land Rights Act for the ensuing five years.”
    The TOs have spoken. They do not want this project, respect this decision.
    This company will continue to push and challenge local resolve. This is nothing but economic and political coercion.
    The local land owners should not be held at ransom to exploit their country in order to bolster the profits of a mining company.
    It is the same story time and time again. We are yet to hear of a story where mining has become the economic panacea that it consistently claims to be.
    We urgently need to review our agricultural practices so that they we do not need to rely on pushing more and more out of the ground with the use of chemicals.
    Our soils and water sources are too degraded to withstand continued industrial agriculture.

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  3. Spot
    Posted November 7, 2018 at 8:18 pm

    Mr Ross said if fledgling Anangu tourism plans, especially in the vast Indigenous Protected Area surrounding the national park, receive the assistance they need to get off the ground nobody will miss the climb.
    It seems somethings need to hurry up time is running out very quickly.
    How time flies by and the vast difference in procedure there is in the NT.
    You only have to search Lake McKay in WA and the development of their potash industry in the region, you will see the senior men and women standing proud of their decision to give their children a future off welfare dependant systems.
    You see the traditional owners standing up unlike over the boarder were you will see the designated spokes person or a white lawyer from some other state that is on a short term employment contract to put across the views of the traditional owners whom they don’t list due to their justification of keeping them protected from other influences. And we all just have to take the land council’s word for outcomes of the meetings.
    It is mentioned they would get a 10% royalty. Why would this not get absorbed into the land council’s coffers and not achieve a sustainable outcome?
    Why not have guarantees of employment opportunities and business ventures in the process instead of being rewarded for not working.
    If the Amadeus area will have no mining negotiations until 2021 why haven’t the fledgling Anangu tourism plans been developed as yet?
    Very interested to hear why nearly 50% of the NT is now a private national park that the tax paying public is paying millions to put rangers on to look after it and can’t even visit it.

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