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Yankuang Builds on Exploration Block by Block

NEXT year in early April, part of Yankuang Bauxite Resources Pty Ltd’s exploration licence for its Wundowie/Bailup resource area expires.

But that’s not the end of it, as Yankuang can continue to apply for two-year extensions into the future as long as it meets Department of Mines, Industry Regulation and Safety rules on expenditure and compensation to landowners such as Peter Cook who owns most of the land under exploration.

Using the department’s schedule of fees and charges for exploration tenements, Yankuang has to spend approximately $500,000 over 11 years to satisfy the expenditure conditions to maintain its licences at Morangup and Wundowie/Bailup.

The company has not only met the minimum expenditure requirement but has reportedly spent even more to explore the 62km2 bauxite resource.

Mining companies don’t talk in hectares or square kilometres, they talk in ‘minutes’.

Based on longitude and latitude, their tenements are divided into regular units of land called ‘graticular sections’ or ‘blocks’.

Depending on the latitude, a block equates to approximately 2.8km2 to 3.3km2, which gives Yankuang 21 blocks in the 62km2 Morangup-Wundowie/Bailup exploration area.

During the exploration phase before a mining licence is granted, the mining proponent can extract or disturb up to 1000 tonnes of material from the ground, including overburden, and can seek ministerial approval to approve extraction of larger tonnages.

There is no limit to the number of exploration licences an individual or company can hold but there is a limit on the number of blocks that can be included in one licence.

An exploration licence is limited to a maximum of 70 blocks in a ‘known mineralisation zone’ such as the Avon Valley.

As long as the blocks have at least one side in common with another in the group, it means that approximately 210km2 can be explored under one licence.

Since the original 62km2 exploration area was licensed in 2007, Yankuang has added four more adjoining exploration areas in 2011 and 2012 as well as another, as yet unconnected, site.

Even if we double the minimum expenditure commitments for the original Morangup-Wundowie/Bailup exploration area, this averages out to only $91,000 a year – peanuts for a Chinese state-owned company such as Yankuang.

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