Karara seeks 2050 expansion

Fortescue, one of the five largest iron producers in the world, expects renewables to “play a very big part of our overall earnings in the future”.

Karara Mining has proposed to expand its namesake iron ore project in Western Australia with a mine-life extension to 2050 and a production rate of 37 million tonnes per annum (Mtpa).

If approved by the Environmental Protection Authority of Western Australia (EPA WA), the expansion would add 10 years and an additional 1407 hectares (10.2 per cent) to the current mine plan.

Karara’s expansion is expected to bring about multiple benefits, according to the company’s proposal.

These include continued earnings which generate royalties and taxes to government; direct and indirect employment and training opportunities; and further expanding the knowledge of regional flora and fauna.

The proposal also considers additional waste rock and tailings storage, with an extra 265ha proposed for the waste dump footprint and an extra 486ha for tailings.

The Karara iron ore project is already the largest of its kind in the Midwest region and one of only two magnetite mines in Western Australia.

Located 220 kilometres south-east of Geraldton, Karara Mining has been exporting 8Mtpa of premium, high-grade (66.68 per cent) magnetite concentrate to offtake partner Ansteel in China.

The mine was commissioned in July 2013 and achieved its current nameplate production rate of 8Mtpa two years later.

Since then, Karara has signed some significant contracts for mining services, including with Downer and NRW Holdings.

NRW first earned $210 million for preliminary construction work on the project’s crushing and processing facility between 2010 and 2012, before Downer earned more than $1 billion for mining services between 2012 and 2022.

In 2021, a letter of intent indicated that mining duties would be handed back to NRW Holdings on a $700 million contract which will see the company work at Karara until 2027.

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