BBI Group to acquire MinRes asset near $6bn iron ore development

Image: BBI Group

BBI Group, which is developing the $6 billion Balla Balla infrastructure project in the Pilbara of Western Australia, has secured an agreement to acquire the Weelumurra iron ore asset from Mineral Resources (MinRes).

Weelumurra is about 15km from BBI’s proposed Central Pilbara rail head and stock yard. Based on historic exploration work, BBI believes the asset has about 200 million tonnes (Mt) of iron mineralisation, as well as further potential exploration upside.

BBI, which is controlled by Todd Corporation, signed an agreement with MinRes subsidiary Polaris Metals that provides it with an option to acquire Weelumurra for an undisclosed amount.

Chief executive Nicholas Curtis said BBI continued to develop Balla Balla into the next tier one, low cost, large scale iron ore export infrastructure facility in the Pilbara.

“Securing the Weelumurra iron ore asset is an important step in BBI’s efforts to progress the project to a final investment decision,” Curtis said.

“We look forward to working with Mineral Resources and other Weelumurra stakeholders to continue its development so that we are in a position to bring it into production via the Balla Balla infrastructure project.”

In parallel with securing the Weelumurra asset, BBI has completed an exploration review of the iron ore potential of the ground covered by its Central Pilbara Hay Stack Flat tenement applications, located adjacent to the proposed railway line.

The review determined its geological characteristics have the potential for iron mineralisation of up to 400Mt. BBI is progressing the applications and planning an exploration campaign.

BBI has also continued to advance discussions with owners of other potential customer mines seeking export capacity via the project’s infrastructure.

The proposed acquisition of Weelumurra is the latest development for BBI in 2017. The Western Australian Government confirmed in January that a state agreement had been signed to advance Balla Balla.

In March, it signed a memorandum of understanding (MoU) to partner with China State Construction Engineering Corporation (CSCEC) for the construction of Balla Balla.

BBI plans to construct a new iron ore facility on the Pilbara coast between Karratha and Port Hedland, with a 162km railway linking it to iron ore deposits in the region. It is estimated the project will generate 3300 jobs during construction and 910 jobs once operational.