BHP has carried out the first blast at its South Flank iron ore project in the Pilbara of Western Australia, as the mining major continues with a schedule that should see first ore come out from the new mine in 2021.
The company officially broke ground on the $3.6 billion development in July, just over a month since it approved construction.
The South Flank project expands the existing infrastructure at Mining Area C, and involves construction of an 80 Mt/y crushing and screening plant, an overland conveyor system, stockyard and train loading facilities, procurement of new mining fleet and substantial mine development and pre-strip work.
South Flank is forecast to produce ore for more than 25 years, and is expected to help BHP Western Australia iron ore division’s average iron grade go from 61% to 62%, with the overall proportion of lump increasing to 35%, from 25%.
Clough is the EPC contractor on the project, with MACA, CIMIC’s CPB, SIMPEC and NRW Holdings also carrying out work at South Flank, which is owned 85% by BHP and 15% by Itochu and Mitsui (collectively).