Mineral Resources (MinRes) has produced first iron ore at the Wonmunna mine in Western Australia as it works towards ramping up to the site’s approved run rate by the June quarter 2021.
The milestone kicks off Wonmunna as a five million tonnes per annum operation, with potential for production at the Pilbara mine to be expanded to 10 million tonnes per annum in the future.
MinRes, which purchased Wonmunna from Australian Aboriginal Mining Corporation (AAMC) in the September quarter last year, produced first ore less than five months after mining commenced at the site.
AAMC will receive royalties for the first 40 million dry metric tonnes extracted and trucked from Wonmunna.
The site’s ore will be used for MinRes’ Utah Point Hub iron ore blend, which also uses ore from the company’s Iron Valley mine in Western Australia.
MinRes plans to grow output at the Utah Point export facility at Port Hedland towards 14 million tonnes per annum by the end of the December 2021 quarter with the addition of Wonmunna.
MinRes managing director Chris Ellison said Wonmunna’s first production represented the company’s abilities to quickly develop a mine.
“Wonmunna’s rapid and safe development is testimony to the Mineral Resources team’s ability to deliver what others thought impossible. It is the innovative design of our NextGen crushing plants and the agility of our people who make this happen,” he said.
“Wonmunna’s development was completed on time and within budget. Once we ramp up Wonmunna to full production, the mine will provide permanent employment for 500 men and women.”
“This is a great outcome not just for Mineral Resources but also for AAMC’s shareholders, who will shortly receive their first royalty cheque from Wonmunna.”
Fortescue and MinRes are currently involved in a legal bout after the former filed legal action last year after Wonmunna was acquired by MinRes, claiming the mining leases were invalid.
Ellison responded by claiming Fortescue was bullying the company due to the legal action.