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A new owner is working to breathe life into the former Legend International Holdings Paradise phosphate project, with plans for a $250 million stage-one operation to go into production by early 2023.

Queensland private company Phosphate International is buying the extensive portfolio of North-West Queensland tenements for an undisclosed price through liquidator KordaMentha, and expects to settle the contract by June.

The tenements were at the centre of a $1.7 billion-plus proposal by the ‘Diamond’ Joe Gutnick-led Legend International Holdings to develop phosphate mines and a Mount Isa-based fertiliser manufacturing complex.

The phosphate assets were frozen in August 2016 as part of a court action involving Indian fertiliser company IFFCO.

Phosphate International chief executive officer Melissa Brown said that company planned to bring the Paradise South deposit online first, including construction of a beneficiation plant to produce phosphate concentrate.

That mining and processing operation is expected to employ about 250 people and produce about 1Mtpa of concentrate.

The site is next door to Glencore’s Lady Loretta zinc mine, has a proven resource of 200 million tonnes and reached an advanced stage of approvals under the previous owner.

“We’re really excited to get that one going. It could produce up to 50 million tonnes of concentrate,” Ms Brown said.

The Phosphate International proposal for Paradise assets does not match Joe Gutnick’s dream in size, but it will look to scale up as it progresses to take in the other assets in the region.

After bringing Paradise South online it is likely to focus on developing an organic product from the Paradise North area, probably around 2025, before moving on to D-Tree.

Phosphate International holds three existing phosphate tenements at Barr Creek, which are adjacent to the Paradise North ground.

“We’ve done some drilling campaigns on Barr Creek and have an inferred resource (of 13Mt at 13 per cent P2O5, with pockets grading at 30 per cent ) ready to go,” Ms Brown said.

“We’re looking at doing a mining lease (application) on that after we purchase the Paradise assets.

“…Our plan for Barr Creek and Paradise North is to fully develop an organic phosphate fertiliser product that we’re developing with QUT in Brisbane. It will be the first fully organic high-analysis phosphate fertiliser on the market.”