Fenix rising from the ashes
With a JORC 2012 compliant resource of 9.8mt at 64.4% iron, Iron Ridge has some of the highest-grade iron ore in WA.
The iron ore product is high grade with low dangerous elements and is highly sought after by steel mills for environmental and blast furnace productivity reasons.
Following a rapid three-month development period, production began in December 2020 with first sales generated two months later in February 2021.
Iron ore production milestone
In June 2023, Fenix produced and sold 3m dry metric tonnes (dmt) of iron ore from Iron Ridge with an unaudited net operating margin of around $52 per dmt shipped.
This significant milestone was achieved 28 months after the first sale of Iron Ridge iron ore in February 2021.
Fenix chairman John Welborn says the milestone is thanks to the work undertaken by Iron Ridge’s team of workers and contractors.
“This milestone evidenced Fenix’s consistent profitable production from Iron Ridge, which is the result of excellent work from our hard-working staff and contractors and capabilities as a fully integrated mining, logistics and haulage business,” he said.
“This timeline was consistent with Fenix’s original feasibility study for Iron Ridge, with Fenix continuing to deliver on its original promise to shareholders in 2019 when it raised $15m to fund the development of Iron Ridge.”
Mid-west assets acquisition
Fenix boosted its portfolio a month later in July 2023 when it acquired Mount Gibson Iron’s (ASX:MGX) mid-west iron ore and port assets. This included the Shine iron ore mine, two on-wharf storage sheds at Geraldton Port, two mid-west rail sidings and assets at the Extension Hill iron ore mine.
The acquisition gives Fenix the opportunity to reduce the cost of production at Iron Ridge, expand production at Iron Ridge, recommission Shine as a second production asset and benefit from the expected growth in bulk commodity production and export in the Mid-West.
It also allows Fenix to create a substantial new revenue generating business.
“As a result of the transaction, Fenix is now a fully integrated mining, logistics and haulage business in the Midwest, uniquely positioned to benefit from growth expected in the region,” Mr Welborn said.
Sinosteel midwest corporation agreement
Most recently, Fenix secured the exclusive right to mine and export up to 10m dmt of iron ore from the Beebyn-W11 iron ore deposit in the Weld Range, WA.
The deposit is owned by Sinosteel Midwest Corporation, part of the Sinosteel Group which is ones of the biggest suppliers of raw materials to Chinese steel mills.
Beebyn-W11 has a resource estimate of around 20mt at a grade of 61.3% and it is located only 20km from Iron Ridge.
Fenix will maintain exclusive control of all mining, hauling, logistics and port operations relating to the mining and export of the iron ore.
Fenix intends to immediately progress the required approvals and expects to begin mining during 2024.
“As we will maintain exclusive sole control of all mining, hauling, logistics and port operations at Beebyn-W11, we see the potential for significant operational synergies for future mining activity between the Iron Ridge mine and Beebyn-W11,” Mr Welborn said.
The transaction significantly increases Fenix’s portfolio of mid-west iron ore project which now includes Iron Ridge, Shine and Beebyn-W11.
Fenix’s biggest partnership is with MACA, with Australia’s largest independent mining contractor providing load and haul, drill and blast and crushing and screening services at the mine.
This contract began in 2020 and runs for six years.
Prior to this, Fenix formed a strategic alliance with trucking and logistics company Newhaul in May 2019, marking a significant step towards the development of Iron Ridge.
Fenix and Newhaul then formed a new joint venture company — known as Fenix Newhaul (FNH) —to provide all trucking services to Iron Ridge.
This includes a brand-new fleet of Volvo and Mack prime movers and trailers purpose-built by WA companies including Bruce Rock Engineering and Howard Porter.
A few years later in June 2022, Fenix signed definitive agreements with Newhaul to acquire Newhaul’s 50% interest in Fenix Newhaul, resulting in Fenix holding 100% of the joint company.
Fenix also created an opportunity for indigenous businesses throughout the mine and port operations with the start-up of the Schwarze Brothers.
The team of four brothers from the Wajarri Yamatji community provide material handling services at the port and utilise three Caterpillar 982 next gen loaders.
Currently, Schwarze Brothers supplies ship loading and storage shed management services at the Mid-West Port Authority-owned Geraldton bulk export port.
“This has been a thriving partnership with the brothers, where Fenix has assisted the Schwarze Brothers with their business and professional development, providing financing and training for the team, allowing the business to grow and be profitable until it is ultimately able to operate autonomously,” Mr Welborn said.
“The business has been a huge success operationally and Fenix is proud that this relationship is helping empower and provide financial opportunities for a locally owned, indigenous business.”