Alkane Resources' pastoral company boosts its 'drought reserves'

CROP: Ag-n-Vet agronomist Josh Driver and Fergus Job inspect canola on the farm. Photos: Contributed
CROP: Ag-n-Vet agronomist Josh Driver and Fergus Job inspect canola on the farm. Photos: Contributed

The $1.3 billion Dubbo Project is yet to get a lucky break unlike the Toongi Pastoral Company (TPC).

Alkane Resources' development-ready project at Toongi is hamstrung by buyers demanding discounted prices while its pastoral company seizes "windows of opportunity" in a dogged drought.

TPC farm manager Fergus Job's gamble on a sorghum crop after spring rain in October has paid off with a "large, strong and highly-nutritious" crop turned into silage. 

The project site and farm are neighbours on 3500 hectares of land bought by Alkane Resources in its bid to launch "one of Australia’s most valuable rare metal/rare earth projects". 

About 500 hectares was earmarked for the mine site, about 1000 hectares for regeneration of of bushland as "biodiversity offsets" and almost 2000 hectares for the "commercial farming operation".

In its February 2019 community newsletter on the Dubbo Project, Alkane Resources tells of fortuitous circumstances boosting the farm's "drought reserves".

".. the TPC team sowed in the third week of October, thereby making the most of the November rains as well," it reads.

"Instead of moving cattle in to graze at the end of November as originally planned, TPC decided to make silage as a means of preserving the harvest as fodder for drought reserves.

SILAGE: Toongi Pastoral Company sorghum has been turned into silage.

SILAGE: Toongi Pastoral Company sorghum has been turned into silage.

"..the sorghum crop was mowed, baled and wrapped in plastic, allowing anaerobic processes to transform and preserve the high-energy fodder."

The Dubbo Project is based on an in-ground resource of zirconium, hafnium, niobium, yttrium and rare earth elements in demand across the globe.

Alkane Resources remains "optimistic" about the project's prospects.

"As a foundation to achieving financing, Alkane continues to seek fair and binding offtake agreements for the materials the Dubbo Project will produce," it reports.

"The inherent challenge is that potential customers are still mainly buying from China, and although they are interested in establishing a non-Chinese supply chain to diversify supply risk, they want to pay discounted prices to new entrants. 

"Alkane’s wholly-owned subsidiary, Australian Strategic Materials is not willing to become bound to an inferior pricing position, nor is it in Australia’s national interests."