$900mn Northern Territory mining project gets green light despite radioactive risk
A huge mining project northwest of Alice Springs has been granted approval by the Northern Territory Environment Protection Authority (NT EPA), despite the presence of radioactive material at the site.
After more than two years of assessment, the NT EPA decided the environmental risks at the Nolan Project could be mitigated sufficiently by storing radioactive material in dams. It also made 15 other recommendations relating to environmental protection.
Arafura Resources will develop the site, supplying rare earth materials including neodymium and praseodymium which are used to build magnets for electric vehicles and wind turbines.
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EPA Chairman, Dr Paul Vogel, said: “This proposal comes with long term environmental risks that will require a high level of ongoing regulatory scrutiny across government.” EPA’s key recommendations focus on ensuring leading practice in management of tailings, residue and waste during operation, closure and post decommissioning.
Arafura wants to mine 14,000 tonnes of rare earths a year, and expects the mine to be productive for at least 30-35 years. The site is said to contain 56mn tonnes an average grade of 2.6% total rare earth oxides, extending 215m below the earth’s surface.
NT EPA has stressed the need for rigorous oversight of the measures it proposes. In a statement it said: “The NT EPA emphasises that the environmental commitments, safeguards and recommendations outlined in the Environmental Impact Statement, this Assessment Report and in the final management plans must be implemented by the Proponent, with a high level of oversight and strong compliance enforcement by the relevant regulator throughout the life of the Project to deliver acceptable environmental outcomes.”
The proposed site is 135km north-northwest of Alice Springs and 10km west of Aileron roadhouse and Alyuen community.
Timeline: India takes unicorn leap with six in five days
We chart an historic week in India’s tech industry, where in just five days, between 5-9 April 2021, the country achieved six new unicorns, bringing India’s total to 10 in 2021 to date, an immense unicorn leap from just seven in 2020 and six in 2019.
April 5: Meesho
India’s first social commerce unicorn, Meesho raised US$300m from SoftBank, Facebook and Shunwei Capital, giving the Bangalore-based startup a US$2.1bn valuation, a threefold jump from its previous funding round in 2019. Founded in 2015 by two IIT-Delhi graduates, Meesho connects producers and resellers, helping small businesses sell through social media. It has 45m customers and has enabled 13m entrepreneurs to start their online businesses with no investment.
April 6: CRED
Founded just over two years ago, Bangalore-based credit card repayment app CRED raised US$215m from Falcon Edge Capital and Coatue, nearly trebling its valuation to US$2.2bn from its January US$80m round. Allowing customers to pay off their credit card debt while earning CRED coins which they cash in for rewards, CRED has grown rapidly during COVID-19, doubling its customer base to nearly 6 million in a year.
April 7: API Holdings / Groww
The first epharmacy startup to gain unicorn status, PharmEasy (API Holdings), which has digitised 60,000 brick and mortar pharmacies and 400 doctors across India, raised US$350m in a round led by Prosus Ventures. Founded by four former Flipkart employees as a way of making investing simple, investment platform Groww became India’s second-youngest fintech unicorn, raising US$83m in Series D funding led by Tiger Global, quadrupling its previous round in September.
April 8: ShareChat
New Delhi-grown social media startup ShareChat, founded in 2016 by Mohalla Tech raised US$502m from Lightspeed Ventures, Tiger Global, Twitter and Snap taking its raised total over six rounds to US$766m and pushing its valuation to US$2.1bn. The funding will be used to grow its user base and short video platform Moj, which launched in 2020 following TikTok’s ban in India. The regional language startup claims 280m users.
April 9: Gupshup
AI-led conversational message startup joined the unicorn club after raising US$100m from Tiger Global giving it a ten-fold valuation of US$1.4bn. The smart messaging platform, which has seen accelerated growth during the pandemic, was founded in Bangalore in 2005 by serial entrepreneur Beerud Sheth, whose online freelancing platform Elance is now listed. Gupshup’s API enables 100,000+ businesses to build messaging and conversation experiences across 30+ communication channels.