After four years of delays and billions of dollars of budget blowouts CITIC Pacific has celebrated its first shipment of magnetite concentrate from its Sino Iron project in the Pilbara.
Yesterday West Australian Premier Colin Barnett launched the first shipment with CITIC's chairman Chang Zhenming stating the completion of the project was a boon for the state’s magnetite iron ore sector.
The shipment of concentrate will be loaded onto barges at Cape Preston and transported to a larger vessel 10km off the coast before being shipped to China.
Barnett said the Sino Iron project represented the investment opportunities available in the state which has significant magnetite reserves, the West Australian reported.
"The Sino Iron project is the first magnetite mine to reach production in the Pilbara and today's launch marks the first shipment through the newly completed Cape Preston port," Barnett said.
"This is the biggest magnetite mining and processing operation under construction in Australia and is a further sign of the potential of the industry to stimulate new investment and construction activity throughout the State."
Citic Pacific's huge $10 billion Sino Iron project is set to be the largest magnetite development in the world, producing around 28 million tonnes of concentrate and pellets a year.
The project, expected to have a 30 year life, includes a mine, desalination plant, concentrator, power plant, and port.
During the height of construction more than 4000 people worked on the project, while 1000 people will be required during full operation.
The commissioning of the first of the project's two production lines started in July, with the company hoping to ramp up to full production over the next six months.
The first shipment signals the first time a Chinese-owned mining company has transported iron ore products from WA to China.
The project ran into a spate of delays and cost blow-outs during the commissioning phase, and late last year CITIC blamed the skills shortage, bad weather, and the inexperience of its lead contractor for delays on the project.
Legal disputes with billionaire Clive Palmer over royalty payments have also hampered the development and driven up costs.