Nathan River Resources Iron Ore Project

British Marine Group has established a mining company, Nathan River Resources, which has acquired an iron ore project in the Northern Territory, Australia.


Photo by Dazman/iStock / Getty Images

Project Summary

In November 2017 Nathan River Resources Pte Limited acquired the iron ore mine and associated assets located in the Nathan River region, Northern Territory, which includes fully permitted mining leases covering 1,861km2. In February 2018 the initial mine plan was formally approved by the Northern Territory Government

The project had been operational under previous ownership of Western Desert Resources who invested more than A$250m in developing the resource, bringing the mine to production and constructing the logistics solution. This includes a proven infrastructure solution with a fully integrated ‘pit-to- port’ logistics chain using a privately owned 171 km haul road and existing Bing Bong Load-out Facility & Stockyard and port access. As part of the acquisition of the project, Nathan River Resources has acquired all of these assets.

The project benefits from a JORC-compliant mineral resource of 687.1 million tonnes at 39.8% Fe including 45.9Mt at 58.4% Fe. The JORC compliant mineral reserve is 14.3Mt at 59.0% Fe. The material is low in alumina, extremely low in phosphorus and enjoys a higher than usual lump ratio, which attracts premium pricing.

Current Status

Further to the acquisition, the Group has prepared the project for restart, including finalising all licenses, permits, approvals and agreements, and has invested into a significant amount of equipment to be utilised across the logistics process including crushing, screening equipment as well as a fleet of Mercedes road trains and a number of marine assets including tugs and barges.

In May 2019 the Group has appointed Stefan Murphy as CEO in order to take the project forward into production. Stefan has 20 years’ mining industry experience, initially in operations as a geologist and mine planning engineer before transitioning into corporate advisory as a mining specialist financial advisor and more recently as the Managing Director of an ASX listed company.

The project is planned to follow the following stages:

  1. Shipment and sale of the existing stockpile of approximately 150,000 mt of crushed and processed mid-grade direct shipping ore (DSO). Following this, the processing and sale of another 150,000 mt of high-grade DSO that is mined but not yet crushed and processed.

  2. Commencement of mining operation of high quality, low impurity DSO, possibly extended through exploration of drill-tested targets, inclusion of inferred material and additional DSO potential, as only 50% of the ironstone outcrops have been drilled to date.

  3. The later stage involves beneficiation of low grade ore which can be undertaken at a range of production rates and methods to potentially extend the mine life for +20 years.

There are further areas outside of the Roper Bar mining lease, namely the Mountain Creek Mesa and Tianda Mesa, over which the company has exploration leases, albeit subject to further assessment.

The project is located south-east of the town of Ngukurr and the Roper River, approximately 50km inland from the Gulf of Carpentaria. The mine site is linked to the loading facility at Bing Bong by a 171km haul road.

The company has exploration leases over a wide area where a limited assessment has been performed to date, but these hold significant potential for further deposits and certain areas show signs of very high-grade mineralisation.

Project History 

Western Desert Resources Limited ("WDR"), a publicly listed company on the Australian Securities Exchange, developed the Roper Bar Iron Mine at a cost in excess of A$250 million inclusive of construction of ‘pit-to-port’ logistics system. WDR constructed and commenced operating a comprehensive mine infrastructure in September 2013, including – open pit mine and run-of-mine infrastructure, offices, workshops and laydown yards, on-site laboratory, on-site airstrip, water supply, 171km private sealed haul road; and the Bing Bong Loading Facility infrastructure including stockyard, conveyor and barge loader. Mining operations commenced in September 2013 with ship loading commencing in December 2013 followed by the first shipment in January 2014. The Roper Bar operations had exported approximately 1.3 million tonnes of iron ore at a 60:40 lump to fines ratio. Having got the mine into production, WDR was then the subject of a combination of events from which it could not recover – iron ore price decline, 1-in-50 year rain event and an inability to manage the mine to port logistics cost-effectively.  WDR went into administration on September 5, 2014 and eventually receivership and liquidation under appointments made by the primary secured lender. 

In November 2017 Nathan River Resources Pte Limited ("NRR") acquired the project including the JORC-compliant mineral resource and reserve. Mining and exporting the JORC-compliant reserve is the focus of NRR and will undertake further reserve delineation in time to extend the mine life as it considers appropriate and evaluate the possibility of benefication of low grade iron ore.       

One of the key attrributes of the project is the existence of approximately 150,000 mt of mined, stockpiled DSO material that is ready for shipment.

The project benefits from significant existing infrastructure including a 171km haul road linking the mine site with the load-put facility in Bing Bong.

Nathan River Resources has invested in its own equipment including a fleet of road trains and a number of marine assets.