A discovery in Penrose State Forest could provide a boost for Australian manufacturing industries and create employment opportunities.
Australian Bauxite Limited (ABx) recently announced it had found refractory-grade bauxite in the state forest.
Refractory-grade bauxite is used for heat containment and abrasives.
ABx CEO Ian Levy said this type of bauxite was needed for Australian manufacturing industries and did not require coal-seam gas type drilling.
“The resource lies at the land surface well above the water-table so there is no deep quarrying needed,” he said.
“This material could be an import substitute and is needed in Port Kembla's manufacturing industries where jobs are at risk.”
Mr Levy said if the company continued to pursue the project, it would have little affect on the Highlands.
“The odds are that there will be no affect on the Southern Highlands if this turned out to be a successful venture - other than perhaps 15 to 30 jobs,” he said.
“The type of quarry for such a small-tonnage resource is considerably smaller than existing sand quarries. If developed, it would involve a three-metre deep, dry, short-life quarry, much like borrow pits used by councils for road repairs and maintenance.”
In late 2015, ABx was granted its tenement over Penrose State Forest.
So far ABx has restricted its tenements to the State Pine Plantations area, near an existing sand quarry and adjacent to the Hume Highway.
While Mr Levy said while there were several potential benefits, the project was not without risk.
He said there were concerns that manufacturing industry customers in Australia would not exist by the time ABx managed to get the project approved.
Rising gas prices for NSW manufacturing industries was another issue.
“Gas prices have risen from $4.85/gigajoule to $20.50/gigajoule in a few years.
“ABx must now decide if it should invest in further exploration of this rare resource using the limited cash that our 2,800 Australian shareholders have invested in us for exploration.”