Ancient plants get new home in epic relocation mission

Date: May 2, 2022

Publication Type: Blog

Subject: Newspaper

The Kenbi Rangers have successfully extracted and relocated nearly 150 cycad plants from the Finniss Lithium project site, protecting the plants from possible destruction.

Kenbi Ranger John 'Mango' Moreen with one of the 147 relocated cycads.

THE precious plants were identified by rangers conducting cultural heritage monitoring work on Core Lithium’s proposed mine site on the Cox Peninsula near Darwin last October.

Kenbi Rangers, together with the team at EcOz Environmental Consulting, decided to move the 147 Cycas armstrongii to safer grounds.

It took six rangers, a Bobcat, an excavator, weeks of meticulous planning and three days of hard work to carefully lift the cycads out of the ground and transplant them to their new location.

Kenbi Ranger Co-ordinator Steven Brown said the rangers have previous experience with transplanting cycads - in 2016 they relocated plants as part of the Ventia Remediation project on Cox Peninsula.

He said a great deal of care was taken during the salvage operation, including keeping the root systems intact and identifying the correct soil for their new home.

“Taking on this task was a huge job, but the Kenbi Rangers pride themselves on doing jobs that others believe cannot be done,” said Mr Brown.

One month on, the success of the cycads’ relocation was already evident.

“We have been back to the site on a number of occasions and derive enormous satisfaction in seeing the regrowth of new leaves after such a short time,” said Mr Brown.

Core Lithium has since told Mr Brown that the relocated cycads have had an 87 per cent regrowth sucess rate.

Although found in abundance in the Darwin region, this species of cycad is classified as ‘vulnerable’ under the Territory Parks and Wildlife Conservation Act. Cycads as a plant group have outlived the dinosaurs and many of the species found in the NT cannot be found in any other part of Australia, according to the NT Herbarium.

Besides preserving these unique plants, the Kenbi Rangers are conducting other environmental and cultural protection work on the mine site, including water quality monitoring, weed spraying and sand bagging for flood water damage prevention.

Core’s 175,000 tonnes per annum Finniss Lithium Project is due to open in late 2022. In March, the Australian miner announced it had locked in a deal to supply lithium spodumene concentrate to Elon Musk’s electronic vehicle company Tesla over four years.

Core Lithium Managing Director Stephen Biggins said the company is “thrilled to have reached this agreement with Tesla.

“Tesla is a world-leader in electric vehicles and its investment in offtake and interest in our expansion plans for downstream processing are very encouraging,” said Mr Biggins.