MinRes ramp up at iron ore sites on track

Mt Marion being upgraded. Image: Mineral Resources

Mineral Resources (MinRes) has reported quarterly results at the Iron Valley and Koolyanobbing iron ore operations in Western Australia that reflect ramp up plans at the sites.

The company’s iron ore shipments were up 49 per cent year on year to 3.3 million tonnes during the June quarter and in line with the previous three-month period.

MinRes’ result at Iron Valley was driven by “continued strong iron ore prices and on-site fines stockpiles”, while the Koolyanobbing site reached a targeted annualised rate of six million tonnes a year.

The company is planning to step up this target at Koolyanobbing to 7.5 million tonnes in the next quarter. MinRes acquired Koolyanobbing from United States-based Cliffs in August 2018.

Conversely, the company’s spodumene production and shipping were down slightly on the previous quarter and year on year.

MinRes produced 90,000 wet metric tonnes and shipped 81,000 wet metric tonnes from the Mount Marion joint venture operation in the quarter, down roughly 16 per cent and 27 per cent on the previous quarter respectively.

This was due in part to an upgrade project to increase Mount Marion’s nameplate capacity to 450,000 tonnes a year at a six per cent cut off, up from the previous cut off of four per cent.

Construction works on the upgrade were completed in March, but the site will continue to produce spodumene at both cut-off grades until it completes an optimisation study in the first financial quarter of 2020.

MinRes stated that it expected a major JV deal with American giant Albemarle Corp at the Wodgina lithium operation to be completed by the end of 2019 despite several outstanding approvals.

Albemarle secured an exclusivity agreement with MinRes in November 2018 for rights to 50 per cent of the $US2.3 billion ($3.31 billion) project.

MinRes admitted that the developing Wodgina lithium project in the Pilbara region was still subject to several approvals from “relevant regulatory authorities in Australia and China and third party consents”.

The company has completed the first of three trains at the site, with train two commissioning and train three construction now under way.

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