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Vital Metals Watershed Project

Vital Metals Limited is currently developing a tungsten resource under Mineral Development Licence (MDL) 127 at the Watershed deposit some 23 km north-west of Mt Carbine on the boundary between Cook and Marbeeba Shires in north Queensland. The proponent submitted to the department an application to prepare a Voluntary Environmental Impact Statement (EIS), and the department approved the application on 18 December 2006. The department is managing the assessment of the project using the EIS process set out in part 1 of chapter 3 of the Environmental Protection Act 1994 (EP Act).

Development of the Watershed tungsten deposit would be by conventional, metalliferous, open-cut mine using diesel powered equipment, mining scheelite ore with a waste to ore ratio of approximately three to one. Up to 1.5M tonnes of ore would be mined per year for at least 10 years. Waste rock would be dumped in out of pit landforms currently allocated to the eastern side of the deposit. The proposed project is currently subject to a major optimisation investigation.

Processing of the mined material on site would include:

  • primary crushing
  • secondary crushing
  • possible use of X-Ray ore sorting
  • high pressure grinding rolls for further size reduction
  • size classification
  • gravity recovery
  • re-grind of the fines
  • flotation of the fines
  • electrostatic and magnetic separators of the concentrates.

It is anticipated that concentrates would be sold to overseas buyers. They would be packaged and hauled to Brisbane for despatch.

On-site purpose built accommodation would be provided for the project workforce.

The project site is located on a watershed between the Palmer River and Mitchell River systems, both of which drain into the Gulf of Carpentaria. The site comprises moderately rugged north-south striking ridges interspersed with prominent mountains and tablelands over granite exposures. Elevation ranges from 550 metres to 800 metres above sea level.

Vegetation on the site remains relatively undisturbed. Several species of conservation significance are located within the project boundary including at least one listed species. An initial survey identified one listed fauna species, the Northern Quoll (Dasyurus hallucatus) in the project area.

The project was referred under the Environmental Protection and Biodiversity Conservation Act 1999 (Cwth) and on 12 February 2007 it was decided that the project is not a controlled action provided it is undertaken in a particular manner. The particular manner included actions to ensure significant impacts are avoided on populations of the following listed species: Northern Quoll, Cooktown Orchid and the bloodwood, Corymbia rhodops.

The EIS Assessment Report has been issued to the proponent and the EIS process is now completed.

Publicly available documents:

For further information about the EIS process for the Vital Metals Watershed Project, contact the EIS Co-ordinator.

Available from the library catalogue

The documents referred to on this page are available from the department’s online library catalogue.

Last reviewed
13 October 2016
Last updated
1 April 2010