The massive Sconi nickel-cobalt development now has ‘Prescribed Project’ status from the Queensland government which will help it through the final stages of regulatory approvals.

The share price jumped in response: up 18.5 per cent to 4.5c in early trade.

The $1.4 billion, 18 year-plus project aims to produce nickel, cobalt and scandium for battery makers, electric vehicles, and other high tech applications.

Prescribed Project status provides “co-ordinated agency support from the State government” as the company finalises approvals for the massive project, Australian Mines boss Benjamin Bell told investors.

It also enables the coordinator-general to intervene in the approvals process “to ensure timely decision making for the project”.

The Australian Mines share price over the past three months.
The Australian Mines share price over the past three months.

Premier Annastacia Palaszczuk said this status recognised the significant positive benefits the project could bring to the region.

“I met with the proponents of this project during the trade mission to South Korea last year, and I’m pleased this project is progressing because it means jobs for North Queensland,” the premier said.

Australian Mines is hoping to start construction at Sconi this year – but first it need to land a complex financing package.

Show me the money!

Australian Mines has extended financing discussions for the massive project to 19 September 2019 – even though the miner says it doesn’t need that much time.

“Although we appreciate the extension of the financing condition to September, given the progress we have been making on these negotiations since the Bankable Feasibility Study was released, we plan to have the entire project funding package in place during the second quarter of 2019,” Mr Bell said.

READ: The upside of falling cobalt and lithium prices

This extension was also designed to accommodate the North Australian Infrastructure Facility’s (NAIF) current due diligence and investigation into potentially providing financial support for Sconi.

The $5 billion government-backed NAIF initiative is designed to provide concessional finance to encourage private sector investment in infrastructure that benefits northern Australia.