Fire halts Sino Iron processing

CITIC Pacific Mining (CPM) has resumed production at the Sino Iron mine in Western Australia after a fire suspended activities at the Pilbara site yesterday.

The blaze reportedly occurred around 4pm local time on May 4 and caused nearby parts of the operation to come to a halt.

“Production at Sino Iron’s processing area (concentrator) has resumed, following a fire at a non-operational sampler within the nearby tailings thickener precinct yesterday afternoon,” a CITIC media release stated.

“There were no injuries, and the fire was extinguished by CPM’s fire and emergency response team within 1.5 hours.”

An inspection into the cause of the fire was not undertaken due to poor light as it occurred in the late afternoon.

“Production at the concentrator temporarily ceased yesterday as a precautionary measure, until a thorough safety inspection could be conducted in daylight hours,” CITIC stated.

“CPM is cooperating closely with the Department of Mines, Industry Regulation and Safety inspectors to determine the cause of the fire.”

The operation is the largest magnetite mining and processing operation in Australia and is found 100 kilometres south of Karratha.

CITIC provides jobs to more than 3000 direct employees and contractors at Sino.

The Sino iron project has a processing capacity of 24 million tonnes per year, thanks in part to the world’s largest grinding and ball mills.

It was purchased by CITIC from Clive Palmer’s Mineralogy in 2006.

This was achieved under the China project option agreement (CPOA), in which CITIC paid $US15 million ($18.7 million) to Palmer’s Korean Steel and Sino Iron companies with he option to acquire other companies under Palmer’s control.

The CPOA also gave CITIC the right to access a billion tonnes of iron ore, however the company has been unable to pursue the agreement and has taken the matter to the Supreme Court of Western Australia.

In March, Justice Ken Martin ordered CITIC and Palmer’s Mineralogy to resolve their dispute, giving CITIC the option to mine a further one billion tonnes of iron ore in Western Australia.


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