The Australian company Gippsland Ltd (ASX; AIM; London Plus Market & Frankfurt: GIP) believes the Abu Dabbab tantalite-tin project in Egypt's central Eastern Desert now has a blueprint that will see a saving of about $US900,000 on water requirements and $US4 M on water requirements.

Originally the project was to have the plant about 5 kilometres from the Red Sea coast and 20 km from the mine by utilising a large seawater desalination plant from which waste brine was to be injected into coastal aquifers.

However, a technical review will now see desalinated water required only for the final stage of processing and raw seawater introduced for the bulk of requirements.

This, said Gippsland's executive chairman Jack Telford, means that the use of seawater will provide a capital cost saving of up to $US4 M, an operating cost saving of $US900,000 per annum.

This would also see the original ore haulage distance reduced by about 19 km which reduces the heavy haulage cost by $US4 M per annum.

Telford said that as a result of seawater being used in the plant, the injection of waste desalination brine becomes unnecessary, which in turn enables the plant to be located within 1 km of the open cut mine.

In the future the new plant proposal will also shorten the mill feed distance for Gippsland's 98 million tonne Nuweibi tantalum deposit which is 16 km south of the the Abu Dabbab plant site.

Abu Dabbab is owned 50% by Gippsland's subsidiary Tantalum International Pty Ltd and 50% by the Egyptian Government through its Mineral Resources Authority.

London-based Capital Equity Research said Abu Dabbab will have a mine life of 20 years, while the Nuweibi deposit is unlikely to be developed for a decade. The relocation of the plant site would not affect the planned start of tantalum and tin production in 2010.

Abu Dabbab has a total resource of 39.9 Mt @ 0.0252% Ta205, 0.0116% Nb205 and 0.089% tin. The blueprint is to mill 2 Mtpa for 650,000 lb Ta205 and 1,530t of tin. Gippsland says there is potential to produce up to 1.5 Mtpa of ceramic-grade feldspar.

Gippsland has an offtake agreement for 600,000 lb of tantalite pentoxide per annum for 10 years with the German tantalum marketer HC Starck GmbH.