Two new iron ore mine leases have been granted in South Australia, in a boost to the local Whyalla steelworks. Sanjeev Gupta, the British industrialist and head of SIMEC Mining, has gained approval for two mines, Iron Sultan and Iron Warrior, which between them will support 56 permanent workers and 130 contractors.
Iron Sultan will create hematite iron ore suitable for use in the creation of magnetite at the Whyalla Plant that will help to lower steel costs for Gupta-owned GFG Alliance, while Iron Warrior is expected to export up to 1.5 million tonnes (Mt) of iron ore per annum.
Construction on both mines is expected to begin in early March. According to South Australia’s Mineral Resources Minister Tom Koutsantonis, the approvals demonstrated “the commitment of the new owner to develop its South Australian iron ore assets and create a more sustainable steelmaking business”.
The leases are the latest signs of GFG Alliance’s aggressive Australian expansion; earlier this month, SIMEC acquired the Tahoor mine in New South Wales from Glencore, and in September last year completed the purchase of Arrium Group of Companies from KordaMentha Restructuring as part of GFG’s plans for vertical integration.
Perhaps most notable is Gupta’s recent interest in the Holden car plant in Elizabeth, SA, which closed down in October last year; the GFG head is a noted proponent of electric vehicle technology. Together, with GFG’s other recent purchases, the purchase of the plant could lead to the creation of a South Australian EV production hub.
“We are incredibly excited and supportive of the GFG Alliance’s bid and subsequent plans to ensure the continuation of our very proud history of automotive excellence and innovation in South Australia,” said Koutsantonis in a letter last week regarding Gupta’s potential purchase of the former GM Motors plant.
“We believe that the GFG Alliance’s plans would put South Australia at the forefront of the inevitable transition of the Australian market to electric vehicles and ask that all due consideration be given to their bid and the potentially significant benefits to the automotive industry and broader community in South Australia.”