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New Zealand-based Chatham Rock Phosphate has made a $12.3 million deal to acquire the Korella phosphate mine, 150km south-east of Mount Isa.

The company said it planned to supply the domestic fertiliser market rather than exporting the product via Townsville.

The Korella mine, owned by Australia Venus Resource, adjoins Incitec Pivot’s Phosphate Hill Mine.

A trial mining operation at Korella in 2015 recovered and stockpiled more than 10,000 tonnes of direct shipping phosphate from a shallow open pit.

Chatham said the stockpiled phosphate remained on site and would provide early cash flow with sales directly from the mine.

It plans to run Korella on a campaign mining basis to deliver selectively mined phosphate to the mine storage areas to be crushed on demand to meet market requirements.

“Production at Korella is expected to commence after the transfer of the lease to Chatham’s wholly-owned Australian subsidiary, Avenir Makatea Pty Ltd, trading as Korella Fertilizers,” Chatham said in a statemnet to the New Zealand stock exchnage.

“As the phosphate ore will be contract-mined and crushed, our capital costs are expected to be low. However, a detailed overall capital budget for the recommencement of the mine operation is presently being finalised.”

In addition to a significant low-cadmium phosphate resource at Korella, Chatham said exploration within the mining lease had identified a rare earth element (REE) resource which it would also look to capitalise on.

Chatham Rock Phosphate holds a mining permit over an area off the coast of New Zealand with significant seabed deposits of rock phosphate and other potentially valuable minerals which it hopes to extract.

The company described the acquisition of Korella as the next step in its strategy to build an international phosphate mining and trading house with a focus on low cadmium, organic phosphate.

The $12.3 million acquisition, subject to conditions, will be funded by a cash payment of $300,000, an issue of Chatham Rock Phosphate shares to the value of $2 million and $10 million in royalties payable in respect of the first million tonnes of rock phosphate sold.