Fortescue opens Firetail iron ore mine

Fortescue has celebrated the official opening of its Firetail iron ore mine at its Solomon Hub.

The opening was attended WA mines and petroleum minister Bill Marmion, Fortescue chair Andrew Forrest and CEO Nev Power.

The opening of Firetail, which is located around 60 kilometres north of Tom Price, is the first stage of the wider US$3.2 billion development, and is the third new mine for Fortescue in five years.

The Solomon Hub will produce around 60 million tonnes per annum, with "Firetail producing 20 million tonnes per annum, while the second stage of the development, the Kings Mine, will produce another 40 million tonnes per annum," Power said.

"This represents a valuable source of new production from long life, low cost mining operations that allows us to blend with Chichester ores to create an enhanced product for our customers – the new Fortescue Blend," he added.

Fortescue began commissioning the Firetail ore processing facility last month and production is predicted to ramp up quickly.

Despite only officially opening the site today, actual mining has been under way at Firetail since late last year, with the miner celebrating first ore train from Firetail in December 2012.

Fortescue also awarded a $1.5 billion contract to Leighton for full mining services at the site late last year.

Power added that more than 11 per cent of company's direct workforce is Aboriginal, and that it has awarded around $630 million of contracts to Aboriginal and Indigenous businesses, while also focusing on increasing local content on site.

"So far 80 per cent of Fortescue's construction expenditure at Solomon has been with Australian suppliers with the bulk of that spend in Western Australia, demonstrating Fortescue's commitment to building Australian industry capability."

As part of the wider Solomon project, it has seen a 12 month recordable injury frequency rate of only 4.3 per million hours worked.

 

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