Metro Mining has launched mining operations at the Bauxite Hills site near Weipa in Far North Queensland.
The company, which has secured government approvals for a 10 million tonne a year (Mt/y) operation, will initially mine at a 2Mt/y rate and hopes to ramp up to a 6Mt/y over the first four years.
Bauxite Hills, an operation mostly constructed in just five months, is expected to employ 200 people, including a significant Indigenous contingent of workers.
Metro’s first shipment from Bauxite Hills has been purchased by leading Chinese aluminium company, Xinfa Group, which has a four-year offtake agreement for 7Mt of product from the mine.
Xinfa has refining and smelting operations in Shandong, Chanxi, Guangxi and Xinjiang Provinces. The first shipment of 60,000t to Shandong Province has been scheduled for April 19.
Metro managing director and chief executive Simon Finnis said the Bauxite Hills mine would feed the ever-growing seaborne bauxite market.
“The Bauxite Hills mine will become the largest independent mine within the internationally-acclaimed Weipa bauxite region,” Finnis said.
“Commencement of mining operations is a credit to the entire Metro team. Site management and the mining, marine and construction personnel have delivered the project in a very short timeframe and are to be congratulated.”
“It was an extraordinary achievement to complete most of construction of a world-class mine in just five months.”
The Bauxite Hills mine’s forecasted 17-year mine life is backed by an estimated ore reserve of 92.2Mt and a total resource of 144.8Mt.
Metro may extend the operation through the conversion of existing resources to reserves, and potentially from exploration in surrounding tenements.