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North Queensland Bulk Ports has assisted the kick-start of mineral sands exports from Port of Weipa in Far North Queensland.

NQBP recently supported Clear Logistics Australia to facilitate the export of up to 70,000 tonnes of mineral sands.

Two shipments have made their way to China in recent months since Clear Logistics Australia sought the opportunity discovered at Urquhart Point, on the South Bank of the Embley River about 5km from Weipa.

Clear Logistics is a part-owner of Green Coast Resources, better known for its bauxite operations at Weipa’s Hey Point.

An organisational refocus spurred an opportunity to take advantage of the mineral sands deposit, Clear Logistics marine superintendent Krysten Roberts said.

“We thought it would be a great opportunity to pivot our business into a new trade,” Mr Roberts said.

The heavy mineral sands deposits were made up of elements for use in various commodities, he said.

“These include ilmenite, rutile and zircon, materials which are used in the production of paint, ceramics, sunscreen and cosmetics to name a few,” he said.

“To help us mine these materials, we had 15 people on the job at the peak of our operations, a mixture of locals from the Cape and Cairns. Where we can support North Queenslanders, we do.”

The opportunity aligns with the State-Government-owned port corporation’s strategic focus to support the diversification of Queensland’s economy and trade, according to NQBP chief executive officer Nicolas Fertin.

“As a port corporation supporting more than 27,000 jobs in industries associated with our ports, we value opportunities to support emerging trade – and local jobs – through projects such as this one with Clear Logistics,” Mr Fertin said.

“The fostering of trade opportunities at all of our ports contributes to a strong growth in our regional Queensland economy. Weipa developed its economy on bauxite since the 1960s.

“Exporting mineral sand – even in small quantities – is a testament of Weipa business and NQBP’s effort and dedication to introduce new trade.”

Clear Logistics has plans in the wings for its mineral sands operation, with potential scope for an on-site plant.

“The mineral sands deposit is a limited resource, but we are hoping to build a plant onsite to high-grade the remaining material. In the meantime, we are remobilising back to Hey Point to reinvigorate our bauxite mining,” Mr Roberts said.

“I have to applaud NQBP in the way that they are open to, and supportive of facilitating other trades in Weipa, it’s great to see that the staff are so passionate and behind people like us 100 per cent.”

Trade diversification at the Port of Weipa