Western Australia's mid-west region has chalked up a significant milestone, with Gindalbie Metals officially opening the Karara iron ore project.
Over 150 dignitaries were on site for the official ceremony today, including Federal Resources Minister Gary Gray, traditional owners, employees, and other business partners.
In a statement Gindalbie said the mine opening was a “tremendous milestone” for the WA iron ore industry, and was also good news for the midwest region.
“The successful financing, development, construction and commissioning of this world-scale project marks the realisation of a long-held dream to establish downstream processing and value adding opportunities for the Australian iron ore industry,” Gindalbie chairman George Jones said.
“For decades people have dreamed about unlocking the value of the extensive deposits of low-grade magnetite ore in the midwest region by processing it to produce high-grade magnetite concentrate for export to China.”
Jones said more than $1 billion had been invested in the mine's key infrastructure, and the project would help boost more development and exploration in the region.
Karara is the second largest magnetite project in Australia, and the company said it was on track to be producing 8 million tonnes per annum of magnetite concentrate by the end of this month.
The project also includes a direct shipping haematite iron ore business, which is currently producing at 2mtpa.
Despite bringing the mine into production Gindalbie faced a number of setbacks in the Karara development, and previously announced a number of significant cost blow-outs.
The opening also comes as softening commodity prices force other miners to focus on high quality ore deposits, with a view to selling off lower quality projects.
Gindalbie said the mine was completed “broadly within the revised construction budget of $2.57 billion” and the delivery represented an “outstanding achievement in the current environment of cost inflation”.
The company said the Karara mine would provide long term employment for 500 people.