Western Desert Resources will export its first shipment of iron ore from its $172 million Roper Bar mine in the Northern Territory just two years after lodging its first project approval.
WDR’s flagship Roper Bar mine, located 50km from the Gulf of Carpentaria coast, plans to produce 1.5Mtpa of ore in its first year, increasing to 3Mtpa by year three.
The project has a total inferred, indicated and measured mineral resource estimate of 611Mt at 40 per cent Fe including DSO grade of 47.4 Mt at 57.3 per cent.
WDR has had a dream run in developing the project, with the first notice of intent submitted to the NT government in May 2011.
Since then the company has gained approval for all the projects operational elements including a 165km private haul road to transport direct shipping ore, on-site workers accommodation and processing facilities.
At the company’s recent general meeting, WDR chairman Richard Allert said first export in December comes off the back of great work from his team.
“It is an exciting moment in time for any mining exploration company when they actually become a producer,” Allert said.
“This will be a major achievement for Wester Desert Resources Limited and the culmination of some outstanding work and commitment by a number of people.”
The meeting was told that WDR had so far stockpiled 600,000 tonnes of iron ore, about half of which was the higher grade material.
First export comes as iron ore miners are enjoying a stabilisation of prices with the metal fetching $US130, defying predictions a fall would once again hurt the industry.
The continuing strength of the steelmaking ingredient comes as the slowing demand from China usually seen at this time of the year has failed to come into play.
With WDR previously forecasting cash costs of less then $60 a tonne, cash margins at Roper come close to $90 a tonne or $270m annually at the planned initial annual production rate of 3 million tonnes.
Hong Kong commodities trader and fellow NT iron ore producer Noble has been signed a confidential deal which will see it purchase all Roper’s production for up to five years.
WDR owns four other iron ore tenements, five gold projects and a rare earths uranium project.