Donald Mineral Sands spend $17m on water

IT TOOK Donald Mineral Sands an hour to spend more than $17 million in a huge show of confidence in the company's future in the region.

GWMWater had its first ever auction of headworks growth water at Horsham Sports and Community Club on Friday afternoon

There was 7000 megalitres of water up for grabs and Donald Mineral Sands purchased 6975 megalitres, leaving 25 megalitres from a buyer who chose to remain anonymous.

Horsham property consultant Graham Gerlach was bidding on behalf of Donald Mineral Sands and took the first three parcels of water, as each parcel had a limit of 2000 megalitres, and the fifth and final parcel which was the remaining 975 megalitres.

DMS paid $2650 a megalitre for a parcel of 2000 megalitres, $2500 for another lot of 2000 megalitres, $2600 for the final lot of 2000 megalitres and $2500 for the parcel of 975 megalitres, paying a total of $17,937,500.

The company opted to take all the water it purchased from Taylors Lake.

Auctioneer Michael Downie said the sale was historic and was the first time the authority had sold water that way.

There were bidders in the room but there were also 38 people registered to view the auction online through AuctionsPlus and some of them were also registered to bid although no online bids were received.

Almost all the bidding was in a two-horse race between Mr Gerlach, representing Donald Mineral Sands, and the unknown buyer who purchased 25 megalitres from the Mount Cole system.

Astron Limited, who owns Donald Mineral Sands, released a statement on Friday afternoon saying they had purchased the annual water allowance of 6975 megalitres for a period 25 years.

Astron Limited managing director Alex Brown said the purchase of the additional water would allow the Donald project to become a world class supplier of zircon and titanium feedstock for the benefit of Victoria and Astron's stakeholders.

The Donald project is a mineral sands mining and processing project situated between Minyip, Donald and Rupanyup.

Donald Mineral Sands obtained state and federal conditional approval of its Environmental Effects Statement in March 2009 and also obtained a mining license in August 2010.

GWMWater managing director Jeff Rigby said revenue generated from the sale of headworks growth water forms part of the funding strategy for the Wimmera-Mallee Pipeline Project.

"The sale of the headworks growth water is positive for the region as it will help maintain the affordability of water in our region in the years to come. Once the water is put to its intended use within the region, it will also support economic development, which may translate into employment opportunities," Mr Rigby said.

The real benefits to local agriculture will be realised when the next parcel of pipeline growth water comes on the market early in 2012.

The second and third growth water products, peak and off season growth water from the Wimmera-Mallee Pipeline, will be available in early 2012 and information will be released at a later date regarding the sales process.