Fortescue Metals Group’s first shipment of the higher-grade West Pilbara Fines iron ore has left Western Australia for China.
The maiden shipment of the 60.1 per cent product will travel to Hunan Valin Steel in China after leaving Herb Elliott Port at Port Hedland.
Fortescue will produce five to 10 million tonnes of West Pilbara Fines in the 2019 financial year by blending higher iron, low alumina ore from the western pits at Cloudbreak with ore from the Firetail mine.
It has launched the new product to satisfy the appetite for higher grade iron ore to feed steel mills in China and in other countries where customers are based.
The company will increase production of West Pilbara Fines to 40 million tonnes per annum after the Eliwana project starts production in December 2020.
Fortescue chief executive officer Elizabeth Gaines said the production of West Pilbara Fines demonstrated the flexibility of the company’s integrated mining operations and infrastructure, and the agility of its processing and blending strategy.
“For the last decade, we have delivered a range of differentiated products with a high value in use for our customers,” Gaines said.
“As we look out to financial year 19 and beyond, West Pilbara Fines will further enhance the range of ores available, as we continue to ensure that our quality control and product consistency are maintained at the highest levels for our customers in China, Asia and Europe.”
Fortescue has delivered the maiden shipment of West Pilbara Fines on schedule for Hunan Valin.
Cao Zhiaqiang, Hunan Valin chairman, said, “Fortescue continues to understand and respond to the market’s needs by expanding its product suite, while remaining focussed on delivering high value in use products.”
Fortescue approved the development of the $1.69 billion Eliwana iron ore mine and rail project in May. The project includes 143 kilometres of rail, a 30 million tonne per year processing facility and infrastructure.