Fortescue Metals Group has officially started construction at the Eliwana iron ore mine and rail project in the Pilbara, Western Australia.
The $US1.275 billion ($1.8 billion) project includes the development of 143 kilometres of rail, a 30 million tonnes per annum dry ore processing facility and infrastructure, with first ore on train expected in December 2020.
Eliwana underpins the sustainable production of West Pilbara fines and provides the flexibility for Fortescue to deliver products at greater than 60 per cent iron grade (Fe).
The development is set to use the latest technology, autonomous trucks and design efficiency, further cementing Fortescue’s world leading use of innovation across its mining operations.
Fortescue chairman Andrew Forrest said it marked a proud day for the company as it celebrated the largest project since the Kings Valley mine in 2014.
“Eliwana is the next great step into the Western Hub, enhancing our profitability and extending our mine life,” he said.
“As always, we are committed to ensuring communities benefit from our growth and development and Eliwana continues our significant contribution to the great state of Western Australia.”
The project is set to generate 1900 jobs during construction and 500 full-time site positions once operational.
Fortescue chief executive officer Elizabeth Gaines said the project would build on the company’s major iron ore projects in the Pilbara.
“The project will see us maintain our low-cost status, provide us with greater flexibility to deliver on our integrated operations and marketing strategy,” she said.
“When combined with the Iron Bridge magnetite development, it will increase Fortescue’s average product grade and provide the ability to deliver the majority of our products at greater than 60 per cent Fe, consistent with our long term goal.”
Premier of Western Australia Mark McGowan congratulated Fortescue on the start of the project, saying it will create significant opportunities for Western Australian workers.
“It’s great to see a strong local content component, with many Western Australian companies awarded contracts to carry our important works, including steel fabrication,” he said.
“The project will also deliver a significant boost to the state’s economy, and Fortescue’s investment is another sign that confidence is returning to Western Australia.”