Kimberley Mineral Sands

Thunderbird Mineral Sand Project

Discover the Thunderbird Mineral Sands Project, with NAIF's investment decision in 2022. Learn how this project in the Kimberley region of Western Australia will generate economic benefits, create jobs, and support Indigenous engagement. Explore the details here.

Investment Decision

March 2022




West Kimberley, WA

 Thunderbird Mineral Sands Aerial View Of Plant Construction With Crane Slabs And Trucks on Thunderbird Mineral Sands Project


NAIF Loan Amount up to


Total Project Value


Length of Loan

12 years



Forecast Jobs


Project Status


In March 2022 NAIF made an Investment Decision to offer financial assistance of up to $160 million to Kimberley Mineral Sands (KMS) to support the development of the Thunderbird Mineral Sands Project in the Kimberley region of Western Australia.

About Kimberley Mineral Sands

Formed in January 2021, Kimberley Mineral Sands is a 50:50 joint venture between Sheffield Resources and YGH Australia Investment (Yansteel) for the Thunderbird development on the Dampier Peninsula, midway between Broome and Derby.

Project Overview

Thunderbird will generate a high-quality suite of mineral sands concentrate products. These products include a zircon concentrate and a magnetic concentrate that contains a high-quality ilmenite suitable for smelting into chloride slag or for manufacturing titanium dioxide pigment.

During Stage 1 construction, Thunderbird is expected to support a workforce of approximately 350 people and establish a drive in, drive out operational workforce within the Kimberley region. Significant public benefits will be delivered within the Kimberley community through a range of business and contracting opportunities.

Australian Industry Participation

Australian Industry Participation (AIP) requirements ensure full, fair and reasonable opportunity for Australian industry to compete for work. This includes work in major public and private projects in Australia, and procurements or projects receiving Australian Government funding of $20 million or more.

NAIF projects must comply with the Australian Government’s AIP policy.

The AIP Plan developed for the Thunderbird Mineral Sands Project is available here.

Public Impact

Over the construction period and first 20 years of operations, the project is forecast to generate an increment to northern Australia’s real Gross Regional Product of $1.85 billion in present value terms. The project is also forecast to generate 225 new jobs in northern Australia during construction and 345 ongoing operational roles for the life of the mine. 

As part of its Indigenous Engagement Strategy, KMS has committed to achieving strong Indigenous employment, business and social outcomes in the region. The company is working with the Joombarn-buru Traditional Owners and collaborating with key Indigenous organisations across the West Kimberley. The IES covers obligations on supporting economic benefits through employment and business contracts, cultural heritage protection, environmental management, cultural awareness training, and a social impact assessment.

Sheffield is extremely pleased by the level of support shown by NAIF and the Federal Government for the Thunderbird Mineral Sands Project. The NAIF commitment will enable KMS to finalise project funding requirements for Thunderbird and progress construction activities, with the aim of delivering first production in early 2024

Bruce Griffin

Sheffield Executive Chair

Related Links


40% (by 8th year of operation)


$10m (per annum by 7th year of operation)


22% (as of 30 September 2023)


$18.9m (as of December 2023)

Indigenous Engagement

Traditional owners of this land

  • the Yawuru, Jabirr Jabirr-Ngumbarl, Nyikina, Warrwa and Nyul Nyul peoples

The Kimberley Mineral Sands project lies on the shared lands of the Yawuru, Jabirr Jabirr-Ngumbarl, Nyikina, Warrwa and Nyul Nyul peoples. Together, they have traditionally inhabited the lands of the West Kimberley region. 

In October 2021, the Joombarn-buru Native Title claim was determined and recognised by the Federal Court. Joombarn-buru means ‘wetland’ and the Native Title claim covers 940 km² of wetland area between Broome and Derby. It also includes the area on which the Kimberley Mineral Sands project is located. 

The Native Title claim was lodged by representatives of the Yawuru, Jabirr Jabirr-Ngumbarl, Nyikina, Warrwa and Nyul Nyul peoples, who worked together to ensure that their collective Native Title rights were recognised. Their claim is managed by the Joombarn-buru Aboriginal Corporation.

Indigenous Engagement Strategy Commitments

  • Kimberley Minerals Sands’ IES includes commitments in key areas of participation, procurement, employment and community development. 
  • Key participation, employment and procurement commitments include an aspiration Indigenous employment target of 40%, to be achieved by year eight of the operation phase of the project, as well as Indigenous procurement targets ranging from $5 million per annum during the construction phase of the project, to an aspiration target of $10 million per year, to be achieved by year seven of the operational phase of the project. 
  • Kimberley Mineral Sands is also committed to establishing a Business Development Committee for the project, which will support opportunities for Indigenous business capacity building, investment, and potential joint venture arrangements. 
  • Community development commitments include developing a Reconciliation Action Plan in collaboration with the Joombarn-buru Aboriginal Corporation, and other Kimberley based Aboriginal bodies, with a focus on highlighting engagement practices with Traditional Owners.

Indigenous Engagement Strategy


  • An online cultural awareness training is being developed through a Joombarn-Buru business and KMS has implemented online cultural awareness program for all directors, employees, contractors, and sub-contractors, in addition there will be face-to-face cultural awareness training development will be ongoing with Traditional Owners.  
  • A Reconciliation Action Plan will be developed. As of February 2023, KMS awarded 15 contracts with a total value of $5.9m to Indigenous businesses in the construction phase. The project to has awarded $8.3m to Indigenous businesses from July 2021 to May 2023. A core register of Kimberley Aboriginal businesses has been developed and will be further enhanced over time. As of June 2023, it was reported that 17% of KMS employees identified as Aboriginal.