Mineral Resources (MinRes) has felt the effect of Western Australia’s COVID-19 border closures during the March quarter as a shortage of haulage drivers meant tonnes of iron ore were left untouched.
The company shipped 4.1 million wet metric tonnes of iron ore in the March quarter, 51 higher than the previous corresponding period.
However, the past six months have seen about 16 per cent (1.6 million wet metric tonnes) of its product miss the boat.
MinRes stated driver shortages are to blame due to hard border closures, and it’s not clear when these haulage issues will be resolved.
The company has revised its shipment guidance for the 2021 financial year, reducing it to 17.4 million and 18 million wet metric tonnes, respectively.
There were no issues with MinRes’ production, as 4.9 million tonnes of iron ore showed an increase of more than 44 per cent compared to the previous March quarter when COVID-19 disruptions emerged.
The March 2021 quarter also saw MinRes commission three crushing plants at Mount Whaleback, Wonmunna and another at a third-party site, which produce a 31-million-tonnes-per-year combined capacity.
The Wonmunna iron ore mine saw first production in late March as the company looks towards the June quarter for a full ramp up to the site’s approved run rate.
Wonmunna is expected to become a five million tonne per annum operation, with the potential to more than double that in the future.
MinRes mined 2.5 million wet metric tonnes in the March 2021 quarter.
In 2019, Albemarle acquired a 60 per cent interest in MinRes’ Wodgina lithium project in Western Australia.
Lithium from Wodgina is transferred to Albemarle’s Kemerton lithium plant in Western Australia.
The company announced it will be expanding its Kemerton lithium plant in Western Australia this year, with sales production to start in 2022.
The Kemerton plant produces lithium hydroxide, which is commonly used in electronic vehicle batteries and renewable energy storage.
The plant will have an initial 60,000-tonne-per-year capacity with the potential to expand to 100,000 tonnes per year.