CITIC’s Sino Iron project ships first concentrate to China

After four years of delays and billions of dollars of budget blowouts CITIC Pacific has celebrated its first shipment of magnetite concentrate from its Sino Iron project in the Pilbara.

Yesterday West Australian Premier Colin Barnett launched the first shipment with CITIC's chairman Chang Zhenming stating the completion of the project was a boon for the state’s magnetite iron ore sector.

The shipment of concentrate will be loaded onto barges at Cape Preston and transported to a larger vessel 10km off the coast before being shipped to China.

Barnett said the Sino Iron project represented the investment opportunities available in the state which has significant magnetite reserves, the West Australian reported.

"The Sino Iron project is the first magnetite mine to reach production in the Pilbara and today's launch marks the first shipment through the newly completed Cape Preston port," Barnett said.

"This is the biggest magnetite mining and processing operation under construction in Australia and is a further sign of the potential of the industry to stimulate new investment and construction activity throughout the State."

Citic Pacific's huge $10 billion Sino Iron project is set to be the largest magnetite development in the world, producing around 28 million tonnes of concentrate and pellets a year.

The project, expected to have a 30 year life, includes a mine, desalination plant, concentrator, power plant, and port.

During the height of construction more than 4000 people worked on the project, while 1000 people will be required during full operation.

The commissioning of the first of the project's two production lines started in July, with the company hoping to ramp up to full production over the next six months.

The first shipment signals the first time a Chinese-owned mining company has transported iron ore products from WA to China.

The project ran into a spate of delays and cost blow-outs during the commissioning phase, and late last year CITIC blamed the skills shortage, bad weather, and the inexperience of its lead contractor for delays on the project.

Legal disputes with billionaire Clive Palmer over royalty payments have also hampered the development and driven up costs.

BHP approves $300m spend, lifting shiploading capacity

Opening its coffers, BHP Billiton is spending $US301 million to replace two shiploaders at its Nelson Point port operations in Port Hedland, Western Australia.

The company said investing in the shiploaders will increase the reliability of its inner harbour port facilities.

Updating its shiploaders will lift the company’s loading capacity by 5000 tonnes an hour.

Each shiploader has a loading capacity of 12,500 tonnes per hour.

The existing shiploaders are more than 40 years old and currently load iron ore at a rate of approximately 10,000 tonnes per hour.

“This investment will also create additional port capacity that can be utilised as a series of

debottlenecking initiatives increase the capacity of our Western Australia Iron Ore supply

chain towards 270 million tonnes per annum (100% basis), at a low capital cost,” BHP said.

Commissioning of the two replacement shiploaders is scheduled for the second half of next year.

“This is an important investment that is consistent with our commitment to maximise the capacity of the Western Australia Iron Ore inner harbour and deliver substantial value to shareholders and other stakeholders,” BHP Billiton Iron Ore President, Jimmy Wilson said.

Port Hedland breaks iron ore export records, again

Port Hedland has posted another record month of iron exports to China, with 25.2 million tonnes of the steel making ingredient that sailed away easily beating the previous record highs of 23 million tonnes set in both May and June this year.

Shipments to China rose by 10 per cent as miners move to optimise efficiencies and increase production to take advantage of a stable iron ore price.

Iron ore production capacity expansions from the port's major users, BHP Billiton, and in particular, Fortescue Metals Group is behind the increased export volumes.

October's result comes on the back a productive year for one of the world’s largest iron ore terminals, with record levels set in April, May and June.

The port’s general manager said exports are not showing any signs of slowing down.

"We're expecting further targets, uptrends for the next year and we're forecasting about 320 million tonnes of port throughput for the 2013/ 2014 financial year,” John Finch said.

"We're still fielding a lot of enquiry for demand. Not only have we got the large iron ore players BHP and FMG in the port at the moment, but we've got Hancock Prospecting and the North-West Infrastructure Group planning their new developments for the next few years ahead as well,” Finch said.

The continuing price strength of iron ore comes as the slowing demand from China usually seen at this time of the year has failed to come into play.

"China has been restocking after record levels of iron ore imports over the past few months," Deutsche Bank strategist Xiao Fu said.

"We expect the pace of restocking could slow. However, we are still below the 2011-12 (inventory) peaks, which suggests that the restocking cycle could last for another two or three months.                                                                

SEW Eurodrive wins Rio Tinto iron ore contract

SEW-Eurodrive has won a multi-million dollar contract to provide Rio Tinto's Nammuldi iron ore mine with six belt conveyor drives.

According to the company it will supply two 710kW drive assemblies for the stockyard stacking conveyors and four 1250 kW drive assemblies, which will weigh in at around 26 tonnes each, for the overland reclaim conveyor.

The drives will help the mine in its plan to increase production from eight million tonnes to approximately 23 million tonnes per year.

The six drive assemblies will be built at its heavy Industrial Solutions division in Melbourne.

Ian Tribe, SEW's national products manager for industrial gears, stated that making the assemblies in Australia was important factor for the company.

"We assemble and service our Heavy Industrial Solutions range here in Australia,” he said. 

"This,combined with the modular design of the units and our extensive local stock holdings, means that the end user can receive their order quicker and have greater access to spare parts for servicing purposes."

The Nammuldi iron ore mine is located about 60kms north west of Tom Price, in Western Australia.

Earlier this year Rio announced it was spending around $3 billion on expanding its production in the Pilbara, with plans to mine below the water table at Nammuldi aiding its increased tonnages plan.


NT iron ore project ships first load to China

A new iron ore mine in the Northern Territory shipped its first load to China yesterday for testing in steel mills.

Sherwin Iron is operating a project in NT’s Roper River region, 475 km south east of Darwin.

ABC reports the miner has worked for months to stockpile its ore at the East Arm Wharf, before loading its first 70,000 tonne shipment.

Yesterday’s load was the first of three headed for China where testing will take place in three steel mills.

If the ore meets the requirements of the mills, Sherwin Iron are expected to start full production in 2015.

The first ore exported is classified as a bulk sample, and as such the company was not required to submit an environmental impact statement to extract it.

The Northern Territory’s Minister for Mines and Energy, Willem Westra van Holthe, said the process was not uncommon.

"We have allowed a bulk sample to come out (of this mine), because it's simply that, a sample, it's not full-blown mining and the relative disturbance to the ground is quite small," he said.

"It allows the company to assess the economics of the project by being able to pull some ore out of the ground, send it across to to be smelted and tested to see whether China actually wants this stuff."

Sherwin Iron has said the mine will export 200 million tonnes over its 20-year lifespan.

Westra van Holthe said the operation would prove a beneficial for the state.

"This project will see the employment of up to 300 people when it's fully operational," he said.

"The Territory Government is fully committed to doing whatever it can to see this project succeed.

"The level of economic activity in the Roper region is encouraging and I look forward to seeing the long-term benefits the mine site brings to the Roper region."


Rio completes first major port expansion at Cape Lambert

Rio Tinto has completed a major expansion at Cape Lambert which will help the miner’s Pilbara operations become the largest in Australia.
Cape Lambert’s wharf B (CLB), was officially opened by West Australian Premier Colin Barnett yesterday, and is part of Rio’s wider expansion plans in the Pilbara where it plans to increase annual capacity to 353 million tonnes per annum.

Rio Tinto Iron Ore chief executive Andrew Harding said the expansion signalled a capital expenditure saving of US$400 million “achieved mainly from our engineering and contracting strategies across this phase of the programme”.

"By running Australia's lowest-cost iron ore operations we will ensure the benefits continue to flow through to the bottom line,” Harding said.

The CLB system delivered first shipment in late August with ramp-up on schedule to reach a full run-rate by the end of the first half of 2014.

Rio said phase two expansion of the port, rail and power infrastructure is underway with a number of options for mine capacity growth are under
evaluation including incremental tonnes from low-cost productivity improvements, expansion of existing mines and the potential development of new mines.

The contract for the wharf expansion was awarded to John Holland in February.

TasRail sign deal to transport Venture’s iron ore

TasRail has inked a deal which will see it transport iron ore from Venture Minerals Riley Creek Mine in Tasmania’s Tarkine region.
The announcement comes after a court challenge by environmentalists to halt mine’s development was dismissed last week.
Venture Minerals said it expects to begin work at the site in coming weeks.

TasRail will provide train services on the existing Melba Line, transporting ore through to the Burnie Port where the company will store it and provide ship loading services.

TasRail chief Damien White said the deal represents development opportunities for both companies.

“TasRail is the operator of critical economic freight infrastructure in Tasmania that is an enabler for existing and new major industries, and is well placed to provide high tonnage base load haulage for new mines,” White said.

“As TasRail owns and operates Tasmania’s only open access bulk ship loader facility at Burnie, the capacity to provide a vertically integrated bulk service for Venture, and support the development og jobs in the North-West region of Tasmania is a win-win.”

Tasmania’s Resources Minister Bryan Green has previously said the mine will contribute $40 million a year to the state’s economy.

The project is set to employ 60 people and run for two years.

Asbestos fears over Rio railway line

A council in Western Australia’s Pilbara region has expressed concern over Rio Tinto’s plan to build a railway line near the asbestos-ridden ghost town of Wittenoom.

As part of Rio’s proposed Koodaideri iron ore mine, the company have submitted documents for a 167 km railway line to be built which would connect to the company’s Dampier-Tom Price line.

While the track would avoid the former town, Rio plan to construct part of the track through the wider Wittenoom asbestos management areas, The West Australian reported.

The Shire of Ashburton is concerned workers could be at risk to exposure, calling for indemnity from litigation if the track goes ahead.

According to documents filed by Rio, the $3.5 billion project is expected to produce 35 million tonnes of ore a year, before a ramp up by 2030 which will see that figure increase to 70 million tonnes a year

New roads, power sources, water infrastructure and FIFO village facilities would also be need to be constructed.

The Environment Protection Authority is currently assessing the project before making a recommendation to the Minister for Environment Albert Jacob.

If Rio choose to pursue the project construction is expected to begin in the second half of 2014 before first production in 2016.

Seeing Machines fatigue system wins BHP contract

Seeing Machines has won a $1.5 million order for its Driver State System which uses driver eye tracking technology to monitor fatigue.

It comes after a 17 truck trial at BHP's Pilbara iron ore operations.

According to the company 110 trucks will implement the technology, which uses eye tracking and facial recognition technology to measure truck drivers fatigue.

It will be installed on the 87 truck fleet at Mining Area C and into the 23 truck fleet at Eastern Ridge.

In a company statement Seeing Machines CEO Ken Kroger said "the mining industry is acknowledging and supporting the advances being delivered with the DSS technology, and the integral role that eye tracking technology has to play in keeping their operators safe.

"The technology is fast becoming indispensable in the industry as a means to maximise worker safety and we are glad that this, along with our absolute commitment to the highest levels of service for our customers, is being recognised. This order re-affirms our confidence in our expectations for the full year

"We look forward to working with BHP Billiton at its Iron Ore sites in the Pilbara, supported by Caterpillar and by WesTrac in Western Australia".

In May this year the company signed a massive strategic agreement with Caterpillar to roll out the technology, known as the Driver State System (DSS), in Cat's machines, as part of the manufacturer's wider MineStar system.

At the time Cat said "the alliance with Seeing machines is a natural progression of Caterpillar Global Mining'swork to mitigate fatigue issues in mining activities".

It is reportedly working on 20 mine sites across 1500 vehicles.

During a Caterpillar presentation in Brisbane last month Cat demonstrated the technology to Australian Mining, explaining that it uses adash mounted camera to track the driver's eye and facial movement and head positioning to not only track drowsiness and microsleeps but also to ensurethey remain focused on driving and aren't distracted during operation.

It uses in cabin mitigation techniques"such as an audio alert and seat vibration, which would wake the dead," they told Australian Mining.

Unlike many other fatigue monitoringsystems in the market, the DSS system is 'untethered', which means drivers do not have to wear measuring caps or glasses that are plugged in to an in-cabin system.

The system also reached a milestone last month with contractor Toll Mining Services, which installed the 100th system into their fleet.

Toll first trialled it at Anglo American's German Creek coal mine in July 2011, where Toll says it was able to quickly reduce the number of distraction events by 70 per cent on site.

Following this it then rolled out thesystem amongst its other fleets in Queensland's north west, the Pilbara and increased its presence in central Queensland.

Rio Tinto loads first ship from the largest integrated mining project in Australia

Rio Tinto has loaded its first shipment of iron ore from its newly expanded  port, rail, and mine operations in Western Australia.

According to the miner this shipment marks the commencement of the commissioning of the expansion program which is aimed at increasing overall capacity of its iron ore operations to 290 million tonnes per year.

Rio’s iron ore chief, Andrew Harding, said “the 290 project is the largest integrated mining project in Australia; the delivery of 290 ahead of its original schedule and within budget is a testament to our focus on value driven growth of our low-cost operations”.

“Given the demanding operating environment in Western Australia over the recent period, this stands as a noteworthy achievement.”

The miner is now focused on the ramp-up to full production rates, and the gradual integration of its ‘Mine of the Future’ automation and remote control program.

The second phase of the expansion will see capacity increase to 360 million tonnes annually.
On top of this are additional options for mine capacity growth including incremental tonnes for low-cost productivity improvements, expansion of existing mines, and the potential development of new mines.

Rio’s first shipment left on the Tai Shan, a cape class vessel carrying around 165 000 tonnes of Pilbara Blend fines.
It is bound for Nippon Steel & Sumitomo Metal Corporation’s Kimistu works in Japan.

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