Fortescue Metals Group has reached a new milestone on its majority-owned Iron Bridge Magnetite project in the Pilbara of Western Australia, with first ore fed into the processing plant.
With first production anticipated in the March 2023 quarter, Iron Bridge will see the world’s fourth largest iron ore miner deliver an enhanced product range and create 900 new jobs, it said.
Significantly, it could become one of Fortescue’s first fossil fuel free sites, enabled by the recently announced $6.2 billion decarbonisation investment to reach “real zero” Scope 1 and 2 emissions by 2030.
At a milestone event held at Iron Bridge today, Fortescue’s Executive Chairman, Andrew Forrest, was joined by Chief Operating Officer Iron Ore, Dino Otranto, Fortescue Board members, Elizabeth Gaines and Penny Bingham-Hall, representatives from joint venture partner Formosa, Western Australian Deputy Premier and Minister for State Development, Roger Cook, along with company executives, valued partners and suppliers.
Traditional Custodians also attended the milestone event to welcome over 100 guests to Nyamal country.
Iron Bridge, 145 km south of Port Hedland, will deliver 22 Mt/y of high grade 67% Fe magnetite concentrate. This product enables Fortescue to enter the high iron ore grade market segment, providing an enhanced product range while also increasing annual production and shipping capacity, it said.
Since the investment decision in April 2019, more than 12.8 million workhours have culminated in the design and construction of the mine, pipelines, village and infrastructure at Iron Bridge. There are currently 3,470 people working across the Ore Processing Facility and pipelines scope of work.
Forrest said: “At Fortescue, we take pride in the fact that we consistently deliver what we say we will, and Iron Bridge is no different. Building on our track record of safely and successfully developing and operating iron ore projects in the Pilbara, Iron Bridge will lead the way for magnetite operations in Western Australia.
“This project demonstrates Fortescue’s commitment to our strategic pillars of investing in the long-term sustainability of our iron ore business, investing in growth, maintaining balance sheet strength, as well as delivering strong returns to our shareholders.
“As we transition to a global green energy, technology and resources company, Iron Bridge is an obvious choice to be considered as one of our first decarbonised, fossil fuel free sites, as we deliver on our target to achieve real zero Scope 1 and 2 emissions by 2030.”
Otranto said: “The Iron Bridge high grade magnetite product is a significant differentiator for Fortescue, and led by the highly experienced project team, I am incredibly pleased with the significant progress made to achieve first ore feed into the processing plant.
“This is a project that has been delivered during a challenging environment, and despite a global pandemic, rising inflationary pressures and a tight labour market, the Fortescue Values have risen to the forefront and demonstrated our ability to continue delivering this ground-breaking project.”
The nature of the Iron Bridge orebodies and Fortescue’s use of a dry crushing and grinding circuit together contribute to the project’s operational efficiency across energy, water use and cost.
Low cost power will be delivered to Iron Bridge through Fortescue’s investment in the Pilbara Energy Connect project, which includes energy transmission line infrastructure, solar gas hybrid generation and associated battery storage solution.
The Iron Bridge Magnetite project is an unincorporated joint venture between FMG Magnetite Pty Ltd (69%), and Formosa Steel IB Pty Ltd (31%). The joint venture partners are each responsible for their equity share of the total capital expenditure.