Mining resumes on Cockatoo Island

Pluton Resources is not yet out for the count, with iron ore operations resumed on Cockatoo Island.

Contractor Watpac has agreed to continue mining operations on the island, and will honour the contract to produce ore until October 2017.

Early this month The West Australian reported that mining contractor Watpac had suspended operations at the high-grade iron ore mine with 60 workers stood down.

Last week Pluton called police after administrators, appointed by Chinese joint venture partner Rizhao Port Group Logistics, entered their West Perth office.

Only days before estranged JV partner Wise Energy Group attempted to remove Pluton as manager of the joint venture.

Pluton advised the market of the move on October 30, but said it did not believe the takeover move was legally enforceable.

The move may have arisen as a result of a dispute over payment of project costs, as Pluton believed Wise owed $20 million in project costs.

Watpac is currently owed about $19 million for work on Cockatoo Island, according to Pluton disclosures.

KordaMentha was appointed as receiver and manager of Pluton Resources, and company partner Cliff Rocke said work had resumed on site but talks would continue about the future of the mine, ABC reported.

“The actual resource is stockpiled as well as in the ground, so at this stage we're considering options of whether we just load the stockpiles onto future ships or whether we complete full mining operations, which will include extracting further ore as well as loading the ships from current stockpiles,” Rocke said.

“It was a pressing agenda item to get the mining operations underway so we've done that now and that's currently loading a ship.

“At the moment we're assessing the full financial viability and operations of the company with the objective of mandating Watpac to resume operations as they were prior to our appointment.”

Image: Watpac

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