The Australian Aboriginal Mining Corporation (AAMC) has secured $27.1 million in debt funding for the development of the First Iron project in the Pilbara, Western Australia.
First Iron will be Australia’s first Aboriginal-owned iron ore mine.
The Northern Australia Infrastructure Facility (NAIF) has provided a $12.5 million loan, while Westpac Banking has agreed to a $14.6 million loan.
NAIF’s loan is the company’s sixth investment decision in Western Australia and its first to an iron ore mining project in Australia.
AAMC, which plans to start construction at First Iron before Christmas, has also launched a $28 million equity raising to fund the project.
The company will create 120 jobs during mine development and 120 permanent positions once First Iron is operational.
AAMC chairman Daniel Tucker said it was a landmark moment in the development of Australia’s first Aboriginal-owned iron ore producer.
“On behalf of AAMC, I thank NAIF and Westpac for their funding support of our endeavours to create opportunities for Aboriginal communities and businesses to become actively involved in mainstream mining businesses and to share in the wealth of the land,” Tucker said.
“We now look forward to continuing our engagement with the WA Department of Mines, Industry Regulation and Safety to finalise the last remaining approvals as quickly as possible so that we can start construction at First Iron.”
First Iron is forecast to be a low-cost iron ore operation with an initial mine life of 11 years, with potential for both ore reserve and life-of-mine growth.
AAMC will partner with Carey Mining to establish a two-million-tonne-per-year mining operation at First Iron.
The company expects to deliver first ore to Fortescue Metals Group’s Cloudbreak hub during first quarter 2020.
Federal Minister for Resources and Northern Australia Matt Canavan said the investment was for infrastructure, as well as in the future of the people and communities of the Pilbara.
“It is a really significant project for regional Western Australia and demonstrates NAIF’s vital role in delivering infrastructure, creating jobs and boosting the economy, with an independent analysis indicating the net public benefit from the project will be more than $300 million,” Canavan said.
“NAIF has now approved loans to six projects in Western Australia, to a total value of $307.8 million, with more than 1300 jobs to be created across those projects during construction and operations.”