Iron ore recovery sees mines reopen

The price of seaborne 62 per cent iron ore fines has reached near three-month highs, according to Mysteel, now worth $US128.35 ($177) per dry metric tonne (dmt).

An increase of $3.3/dmt came as Chinese traders raised offers in response to easing restrictions on Chinese steelmakers, Mysteel stated.

Multiple sources consider the current iron ore price the strongest since mid-October when it spiked in the wake of a freefall from above $200 per/dmt.

The price bottomed out around the low-$80 per tonne mark in November 2021 and has made a steady recovery to current levels since late October.

Several minor Australian iron ore mines were temporarily shut down in the second half of 2021 while the companies awaited more feasible iron ore prices.

Now, with more certainty in the value of their product, some of these mines have come back online.

One example is GWR’s C4 mine in Wiluna, Western Australia, which suspended operations in September.

GWR chairman Gary Lyons said at the time that he remained optimistic for 2022 once iron ore recovered.

“Whilst it is disappointing that mining operations have temporarily ceased at the C4 iron ore mine, it is important to note GWR remains in a strong position to resume operation as the mine will be left in a production ready state in order to take advantage of a recovery in iron ore prices,” Lyons said in September.

Now, Lyons’ optimism has come to fruition, as the C4 mine came back online this week.

Crushing from the run-of-mine pad and haulage to port continued between October and December, according to GWR, as it capitalised on a significant inventory of mined iron ore stockpiles.

Lyons said he was glad to see the mine’s contingency plans pay off.

“The GWR team has taken a proactive approach in order to extract value from its flagship C4 iron ore mine,” he said.

“We have worked through many challenges over the past few months and I am proud of what we have achieved in difficult circumstances.”

GWR secured a January shipment of 30,000 tonnes in combination with high-grade product from CuFe’s nearby JWD mine.

CuFe was another operation to suffer from low iron ore prices and has since recovered in a similar nature to GWR with haulage continuing throughout the suspension of mining.

CuFe executive chairman Tony Sage said it was encouraging to see the rebound in iron ore price.

“We’ve focussed on cost and cashflow management over the last quarter while prices have been weaker and start this quarter in a solid position with the mine fully operational and poised to benefit from the strong prices expected in coming months,” Sage said.

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