Drill testing at the Tarkine mine in Tasmania has begun. The Tasmania Magnesite company undertaking drilling operations is a subsidiary of Beacon Hill Resources. There has also been considerable displeasure over opening up the world’s largest temperate rainforest to mining operations.
The Tarkine National Coalition and Environment Minister Tony Burke are fighting over the need to protect the area. The current mining site is part of an area that is being considered for emergency heritage listing by the Commonwealth. Conservation groups fear that by the time the Tarkine is re-assessed its natural assets would have been degraded.
Tasmania Magnesite said that it will be drilling 12 exploration holes in the mining lease area near the Arthur River at Takone. The first two are 35 km south of Wynyard. The object is to see if an open cut operation is feasible in the area. The scoping study will be completed by the end of the year and by 2012 the company will decide if it will develop the magnesite mine.
The demand for magnesite has increased as per Alan Daley the General Manger of the company. He said, “there was considerable global demand considering its many uses. Right from being a water purifier, conditioning soil, as a kid you might have taken it as milk of magnesia but its bulk use is as a refractory material in the steel making process.”
Magnesite is used as a slag former in steelmaking furnaces, in conjunction with lime, in order to protect the magnesium oxide lining. It can also be used as a catalyst and filler in the production of synthetic rubber and in the preparation of magnesium chemicals and fertilizers.