AUSTRALIA’s second largest magnetite project has opened in WA’s Mid West, marked by an official ceremony at the Karara project site on 9 April.
With more than 150 dignitaries in attendance including WA Premier Colin Barnett and Federal Resources minister Gary Gray, the launch signalled a milestone for the region.
A 50/50 joint venture between Gindalbie Metals and Chinese miner Ansteel Group, the Karara project’s main focus is the production of high-grade magnetite concentrate, with a current ramp-up aiming to reach nameplate capacity of 8 million tonnes per annum by the end of the month.
Gindalbie chairman George Jones said the project would generate value from the Mid West’s magnetite ore resource, which would have otherwise been of limited worth.
“For decades, people have dreamed about unlocking the value of the extensive deposits of low-grade magnetite ore in the Mid West region by processing it to produce high-grade, premium quality magnetite concentrate for export to China,” he said.
“I am proud to have been part of this venture which, through [Karara Mining Limited], has made this dream a reality.
“The 8 million tonne per annum concentrator at the heart of this project turns magnetite ore – which would otherwise have little value – into a valuable premium quality product which is increasingly in demand in global markets.”
The project also comprises a direct shipping ore (DSO) hematite business, currently producing at the rate of 2mtpa.
First magnetite was produced at Karara in November 2012, with the first shipment, comprising 55,000t of magnetite concentrate, completed in early January.
The first shipment of hematite DSO departed from Karara’s export terminal in Geraldton in October 2012, and to date Gindalbie has delivered more than 2.7 million tonnes of hematite DSO to China.
At the peak of its construction period, Karara employed more than 2500 people, and will provide long-term employment for more than 500 people during its projected 30-year mine life.
According to Gindalbie, construction was completed within the revised $2.57 billion budget. More than $1 billion of the budget was spent on new rail, port, power and other infrastructure development.
Gindalbie managing director Tim Netscher said more than 90 per cent of the development cost had been spent within WA and across Australia, with 340 suppliers – nearly 20 per cent of the total – coming from the Mid West region.
“[Mid West suppliers] shared in more than $300 million of work; a remarkable statistic which is testament to the strong foundations of this project within the community and the significant economic and social impact which it has already made on Mid West communities,” he said.