BHP has turned the first sod at the South Flank iron project in the Pilbara, Western Australia.
Premier Mark McGowan visited the project site last week to mark the beginning of the major project, which recently received state government approval.
South Flank, at an estimated 80 million tonnes a year (Mt/y), has the largest annual production guidance of any mine developed by BHP and is expected to create over 3100 jobs in the region, split into 2500 construction jobs and 600 operational roles.
South Flank has a projected cost of $US3.4 billion ($4.6 billion) to be shared between BHP and joint venture (JV) partners Mitsui and ITOCHU, with the majority of costs ($US2.9 billion) to be covered by BHP.
The miner owns 85 per cent of the project, with Mitsui and ITOCHU to split the remaining 15 per cent.
South Flank has been flagged as a replacement for BHP’s ageing Yandi mine, which started operations in 1991.
Premier McGowan called the project a positive injection into Western Australia in terms of improving business confidence and benefiting the state’s economy.
“BHP’s decision, with its joint venture partners, to go ahead with the South Flank project is testimony that Western Australia is a secure and attractive place to invest,” he said.