Creating economic, social and environmental value from waste, clay and salt resources  

  Chandler Project  
Chandler Facility

The 100% owned Chandler project is located in regional central Australia approximately 120 km south of Alice Springs (NT) in the Simpson Desert and in the Amadeus Basin.

Chandler is located near existing infrastructure – next to the Adelaide to Darwin railway, unsealed Maryvale to Alice Springs dirt road and the sealed Adelaide to Darwin Stuart highway.

Chandler is Australia’s first proposed underground salt mine and deep geological waste repository in a 500-million-year-old halite (salt) bed.

Project life

An initial 25-year operating licence, but with the potential for multiple generations with rolling approval extension. It has the potential to be the NT’s longest life project.

Regulatory approvals status

Tellus has received the following main approvals:
  • Australian Government approval in September 2018 under the EPBC Act
  • NT EPA approval in December 2017 recommending the Minister approves the project under the Environmental Assessment Act
  • Minor regulatory approvals required for the development.
Stage of development

Tellus has completed a pre-feasibility study PFS (FEL2.5) and is progressing to a bankable feasibility study BFS (FEL 3).

About geological repositories

Geological repositories have been operating successfully in Europe (since the 1970s), the UK, North America, Africa and South America. They are viewed as world’s best practice to store and/or permanently isolate hazardous waste from the biosphere.

Geological repositories are facilities that can offer long term storage, treatment, recovery and permanent isolation of equipment and hazardous waste services. Geological repositories provide the highest level of containment for hazardous waste (chemical waste) over geological time (hundreds of thousands to millions of years). This is achieved through a combination of carefully selected active control (man-made engineered barriers like packaging, treatment and cell construction) and passive control (natural barriers) measures. This is known as a multi-barrier system.

The key difference between a landfill and a geological repository is that a landfill only relies on the man-made barriers, that ultimately fail over time, while a geological repository relies on the natural barriers (eg. dry, stable, thick, flat clay or salt formation) that provide containment over geological time. Geological repositories do not require ongoing monitoring after the institutional control period as they are passively safe. By storing like with like for safety reasons, this creates an opportunity for future recycling or recovery of valuable materials.

Multi barrier safety case

Tellus’ safety case relies on multiple fail-safe mechanisms (man-made and natural barriers) but the best barrier of them all are the natural barriers with their passive control mechanism. In other words, the carefully selected site (remote, limited land use), geology (host clay or salt rock with low permeability and erosion rates), environment (semi-arid area and separated from ground water), seismic characteristics (geological stable and low earthquake risk) which does not require ongoing monitoring is the fundamental property of geological waste repositories, which remain passively safe through geological time.

Tellus’ Chandler site selection and design processes have been confirmed by independent experts as credible and as representing best practice.

Site selection

The location of the proposed development envelope was specifically chosen based on key requirements for a dual use deep geological repository for salt mining and hazardous waste storage and permanent isolation (disposal), namely: a thick, flat, continuous salt bed, easy to mine and scalable; high grade, export quality salt; close to infrastructure – facility to port supply chain with no bottlenecks; supportive regulatory environment and attractive project economics.

The site also meets Federal, Territory Government and international best practice requirements for a deep geological repository for intractable and hazardous waste storage, recovery and permanent isolation purposes.

Tellus completed comprehensive site investigations to support project approvals and technical studies. These included:
  • Review of 14 oil and gas wells (29km of drilling)
  • Interpretation of 15 seismic lines (145km), 2 oil and gas wells (6.6km)
  • Resource drilling program (drilled 2 holes and 1,937m) with measured JORC resource estimated
  • Water investigation drilling program (8 holes- 6 investigation and 2 production investigation)
  • Installation of 5 surface water hydrographic stations, automatic weather station
  • 3 pilot processing trials (2 dry processing; benchtop and 70kg to 95.4% NaCl [Germany], wet processing 30kg to 99.7% NaCl [USA])
  • Multiple field studies
  • Multiple international benchmark trips (UK, Germany, US and Canada)
Facility capacity

Tellus has approval over 25 years to:
  • Mine up to 750,000 tpa of halite (salt); and
  • Receive up to 400,000 tpa of hazardous waste at the facility gate, subject to licence conditions
  • The salt can be used in the edible and industrial markets
  • Tellus plans to build a circular economy park at Chandler to recover valuable materials, the technologies used will be dependent on the waste received and the technical and economic viability and will be subject to an additional approval process.
  • 270-540 (including indirects) jobs during the construction phase of the project;
  • Receive up to 400,000 tpa of hazardous waste at the facility gate, subject to licence conditions180-216 jobs at peak operational manning supported by a 165-man accommodation camp during the build phase and a 100-man camp during operations
  • Roster 2 weeks on and 1 week off, 12-hour day shift (2 shifts per day). Full operations take place during the 2 weeks on, and only a minimal management and truck-unloading crew present for the 1 week when most staff are off-site.
  • Tellus has a policy of buying local and hiring local (where possible).
Government recognition
  • Tellus’ Sandy Ridge and Chandler geological repositories are the only waste facilities in Australia that have been awarded Major Project Facilitation (MPF) status in April 2017 by the Australian Government.
  • Chandler awarded Major Project Status by the NT Government (Sep. ’14).
Community engagement

Tellus has held hundreds of stakeholder engagement meetings across government in Canberra, Darwin and local government, politicians, neighbours, indigenous and local communities in Alice Springs and Titjikala.

About hazardous waste

In its simplest definition, hazardous waste is waste that can harm the environment or human health and therefore should be removed from the biosphere where it can pose a threat.

Australia is one of the highest emitters of hazardous waste per capita. Approximately 10% of Australian reported waste is classified as hazardous (by volume).

Annual hazardous waste production in 2015 was approx. 45 M tpa, with only 5.3 M tpa reported and entering the waste market. The legacy hazardous waste stockpile in Australia is 1 Billion tonnes and growing. There is insufficient infrastructure at competitive price points to permanently solve the problem or recover valuable materials.

Chandler’s waste acceptance criteria

Hazardous waste from a broad spectrum of industrial sectors, including mining, oil and gas, contaminated site remediation, and utilities (including waste utilities that gather residential hazardous waste during local government collections).

Tellus’ Chandler facility will not accept any nuclear waste, or waste streams falling under low level (LLW), intermediate (ILW) or high level (HLW) radioactive waste designations. However, for total clarity most things in nature contain naturally occurring radioactive material (NORM) and hence by default, Tellus will be accepting NORM.

Chandler will be a State Emergency Services facility that can take diverse waste types from man-made and natural disasters.

Waste acceptance jurisdiction

Only wastes generated within the NT, other Australian States and Territories, and the Australian Exclusive Economic Zone can be accepted, subject to meeting the facility’s waste acceptance criteria.


The site is accessed from the Alice Springs to Maryvale road. Tellus plans to improve the existing road to access the site gatehouse. The site is located near the Adelaide to Darwin railway.

Mine type
  • Type – underground mining
  • Design – Room and pillar
  • Method – Continuous miner
  • Access – shafts for salt and people and decline for waste (decline is 2nd egress)
  • All weather available 365 days a year
  • Once the facility is full, it will be backfilled, capped, rehabilitated and monitored during an institutional control period (ICP).
National hub and spoke logistical footprint

Tellus has a strategic agreement with Toll Group that provides a national hub and spoke logistical footprint.

Assurance and insurance

Tellus has an established and costed assurance framework and insurance policies. This is currently undergoing extensive government consultation and international peer review.

Independent technical reviews
  • A number of independent technical reviews have been completed and will continue on the Chandler project across multiple disciplines.
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