Australia’s Iluka currently holds several mineral exploration licenses in the Puttalam district and earlier the company estimated that its Puttalam mineral sands deposit has 56 million tonnes of titanium-bearing heavy minerals, enough to support a mining operation with a life in excess of 20 years.
“Sri Lanka is a democratic, developing economy with an educated workforce and a desire for responsible foreign investment. Iluka has over 60 years’ industry experience and a track record of sustainable development. So, in many respects, this project offers the prospect of a natural partnership between the company, government and local community,” Hay said following a recent exploration visit of Sri Lankan officials to Australia’s Iluka operations.
“Iluka is committed to open and transparent engagement with the Sri Lankan Government and people. Last week’s delegation visit to Australia was the second this year and forms part of a broader program that will demonstrate the company’s credentials,” Hay said.A delegation of seven senior government officials, including the Director General of the Geological Survey and Mines Bureau (GSMB) and the Deputy General Manager of Lanka Mineral Sands visited Iluka operations in Australia.
The visit was organized by Iluka Lanka Resources (Private) Limited, supported by the Australian Government via Austrade. Members of the delegation obtained a practical understanding of Iluka’s operational, financial and environmental credentials.This included tours of the world’s largest mineral separation facility for zircon at Geraldton in Western Australia; and the world’s largest zircon mine, Jacinth-Ambrosia, in remote South Australia.
They also met with the company’s executive management and senior officials from the Western Australian Government responsible for overseeing and regulating the state’s resources sector, which contributed AU$ 105 billion to the economy in 2016/17.
Iluka currently has operations in Australia and Sierra Leone and also has projects in Canada. The company has invested AU$ 15 million since 2012 on initial development of the Puttalam project; and has already conducted a range of associated technical and planning activities.
In 2017, Iluka committed to conducting a preliminary feasibility study, with an additional investment of AU$ 15 million over two years. If executed, the company is anticipating further investment of up to AU$ 400-500 million to bring the project to fruition, with mining and processing operations to continue for up to 40 years.
As a part of the project, Iluka plans to build an industrial-scale mineral separation plant in Sri Lanka, a facility similar to the one the delegation visited at Geraldton.
Director-General of the GSMB, Dr. C. H. E. R. Siriwardana led the delegation and said the visit was beneficial.
“Iluka is a highly respected international resources company with impressive credentials, particularly in relation to environmental management and the rehabilitation of land previously disturbed by mining.”
“The resources sector has made a substantial contribution to the national and state economies in Australia; and learning from the experiences of mature mining jurisdictions will be an important element in the development of Sri Lanka’s mineral resources,” Dr. Siriwardana said.