Fortescue considers taking backseat at Iron Bridge


Fortescue Metals Group has indicated it’s open to contracting for mining services at its Iron Bridge magnetite project in Western Australia, contrary to its usual strategy.

The mine is on schedule for first production by the end of 2022, according to chief executive officer Elizabeth Gaines, after COVID-19 related strains on the labour force pushed this date back by six months.

The major miner has already begun early works itself at the operation, but is keeping its options open as to how it progresses from here.

Gaines said the reason for considering a contractor was to reduce the cost of using Fortescue’s own diesel-fuelled fleet and opt for a contractor with a ‘greener’ fleet.

“As we transition to commissioning and operations, we will maintain our focus on maximising value, including through our fleet strategy, which will be underpinned by our industry leading decarbonisation targets and our ongoing green fleet development,” Gaines said.

“Retaining optionality is particularly important when considering the benefit of avoiding investment in new diesel equipment as part of our decarbonisation pathway and contract solutions will be considered to enhance our flexibility.”

Several key milestones were ticked off at Iron Bridge during 2021, as the project fulfils its forecast capital investment of $US3.3 – $3.5 billion ($4.59 – $4.87 billion).

“(Milestones included) the delivery and installation of the modules on site, installation of the first high pressure grinding roll in the tertiary crushing facility, completion of earthworks for the tailings storage facility, and commissioning and operation of the airport,” Gaines said.

“We also marked the completion of construction of the module offload facility at Lumsden Point.”

It was not disclosed by Fortescue who had been approached for a mining services contract.

Last year, Fortescue signed Veris Australia for surveying and pipeline design and SIMPEC for major construction works to the wet processing plant at Iron Bridge.

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