Fortescue Metals Group says it has officially broken ground on the Eliwana iron ore mine and rail project in the Pilbara of Western Australia.
FMG Founder and Chairman, Andrew Forrest, was today joined by Mark McGowan, Premier of Western Australia, FMG CEO, Elizabeth Gaines, and the company’s core leadership team, for the official sod turning.
The $1.275 billion project includes the construction of 143 km of rail, a new 30 Mt/y dry ore processing facility (OPF) and infrastructure. First ore on train is expected in December 2020, the company says.
FMG says contracts to the value of A$330 million ($232 million) to date have been awarded to more than 250 Australian business entities as part of the Eliwana development, of which 80% are Western Australia-owned businesses. As further approvals are progressed, it is expected over A$500 million in additional contracts will be awarded by the end of 2019, FMG said.
“Eliwana underpins the sustainable production of West Pilbara Fines and provides the flexibility for Fortescue to deliver products at greater than 60% Fe grade,” FMG said. “The development will utilise the latest technology, autonomous trucks and design efficiency, further cementing Fortescue’s world leading use of innovation across its mining operations.”
Forrest said: “This is a proud day for Fortescue as we celebrate the largest project since the Kings Valley mine in 2014.
“Since Fortescue was founded 16 years ago, we have held community and family at our core and continued to deliver on our commitment to be the safest, lowest cost company. Eliwana is the next great step into the Western Hub, enhancing our profitability and extending our mine life.”
The project will generate up to 1,900 jobs during construction and 500 full-time site positions once operational, according to Forrest.
Gaines said: “The Eliwana project will build on Fortescue’s unparalleled track record and capability in safely developing and operating major iron ore projects in the Pilbara. Eliwana is core to the next phase of development in Fortescue’s world class, innovative operations. The project will see us maintain our low-cost status, provide us with greater flexibility to deliver on our integrated operations and marketing strategy and, when combined with the Iron Bridge Magnetite development, it will increase Fortescue’s average product grade and provide the ability to deliver the majority of our products at greater than 60% Fe, consistent with our long term goal.”