Koolan Island restart on track for Mount Gibson

Mining activities shown in the eastern end of the Koolan Island main pit. Image: Mount Gibson Iron

Mount Gibson Iron’s resumption of operations at the Koolan Island iron ore project in Western Australia is scheduled to start by the end of March 2019.

The mine was closed in November 2014 due to extensive flood damage. Mining at the project’s main pit was temporarily halted for repairs after the seawall failed in October 2014, but high tides the following month breached the wall and led to a collapse.

While no one was hurt in the incident, the project has been recovering ever since.

The company has accelerated the dewatering process, with around 60 per cent of in-pit water already removed.

Pumping of the water in the main pit commenced in August and has been reduced by 32 metres following the removal of 12.5 million cubic metres of water.

The new seawall has been constructed and has been under full tidal loads since November, the same month drilling and blasting of the upper levels of the main pit recommenced.

Mount Gibson Iron chief executive officer Peter Kerr called the progress “extremely satisfying” ahead of what would be a timely restart for the company.

“Given the continued strong outlook for high grade products, we look forward to accessing high grade our early next year and re-establishing Koolan Island, and Mount Gibson Iron, as the producer of Australia’s highest grade direct shipping hematite iron ore,” he said.

In addition, renovation and refurbishment of the site’s accomodation camp and crushing plant are also reported to be in advanced stages, and the recruitment process of the 330 required employees and contractors is now around 80 per cent complete.

In July 2017, Mount Gibson received an insurance payout of $64.3 million for the business interruption and has strengthened its cash position over time in preparation for the long-coming restart.

The insurance settlement also contributed to a  year-on-year boost to the company’s net profit to $99.1 million in 2017–2018, a massive 337 per cent leap on the previous year.

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