THE Department of Mines and Petroleum (DMP) has issued a prohibition notice to Fortescue Metals Group, ordering the cessation of blasting at its Christmas Creek mine in the Pilbara.
The order was issued following a safety incident with a contractor in late January and Mining News reported that an investigation was underway.
DMP executive director of mines safety Simon Ridge said the incident occurred during charging operations in a mining area.
However, “no explosives were detonated and no one was injured as a result of the incident”. Fortescue assumed full ownership and operational responsibility for two ore processing facilities at Christmas Creek early this year, following two fatal incidents at the project in four months. The DMP investigation follows a separate incident recorded at Fortescue’s Solomon Hub in January, where workers were left inside a blast-exclusion zone. This investigation is being undertaken in parallel with three other reports, including two water truck incidents and an incident involving an integrated tool carrier and a worker who received minor injuries.
Meanwhile, Fortescue chief executive Nev Power has denied claims that iron ore producers are facing increased pressure, following media reports that spot prices had dropped 8.1 per cent since the start of 2014. “Pricing in the last quarter has been
strong, very strong, and stronger than it has been historically,” Mr Power said during a conference call.
“So I’m not sure where the reports about discounting are coming from, but they are completely incorrect,” he said.
According to Mr Power, Chinese forecasts indicated 100 million people would move from rural to urban areas by 2020, creating continued strong demand for iron ore.
Additionally, he stated that steel production in China had increased by about 8 per cent year on year, with iron ore imports (the majority of which come from Australia) up by 10 per cent.
As such, he expected spot prices to remain stable for the next two years, between $110 and $130 per tonne.
“If you look forward on those fundamentals there is no reason to say that the iron ore price is going to do anything but be relatively stable and predictable,” Mr Power said.
He said that although there would always be short term fluctuations in prices, he expected iron ore would remain steady for the next year or two, “obviously with movement up and down to do with stocking and re-stocking, and all of that is underpinned by fundamental steel demand in China”.