Drilling tests ore base for nickel project

By ALLAN McNEILallanm@gladstoneobserver.com.au

A NUMBER of industrial projects may be on the cards, but with little happening on the construction front, residents are starting to wonder when the drought will finally break.

For this reason The Observer will be publishing updates and brief histories of some of the better known projects, over the coming days to try and answer some of the questions of locals.

Proponents of the Gladstone Nickel Project (GNP) have begun drilling to test their ore base in Marlborough.

Pearce Matheson group chairman Peter Matheson said the funds had now also been raised to complete the feasibility study and Environmental Impact Statement (EIS).

'By the end of next year we would like to think the way ahead is planned out,' Mr Matheson said.

However the project has a rocky history in Gladstone. It was almost off and running in 1996, but the backing company went offshore to New Caledonia.

The project was relaunched in September last year.

Mr Matheson is not getting ahead of himself in relation to the project admitting there was still quite a bit of work to do.

An initial advice statement has been released to the government, with the company still awaiting feedback.

Stage one is expected to produce 30,000 tonnes of nickel and cost $1 billion, commencing production by the end of 2008.

Mr Matheson said after the EIS process had been completed the group would be looking for other companies to come on board to raise the capital for stage one.

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