FMG’s West Pilbara Fines product at its Pilbara operations.
BY ELIZABETH FABRI
FORTESCUE Metals Group (FMG) has waved off its first shipment of higher grade 60.1 per cent West Pilbara Fines iron ore to customers in China.
The maiden shipment left Herb Elliott Port in Port Hedland on 17 December and was bound for Hunan Valin Steel Co.
The new product is a higher iron, low alumina ore blended from its Firetail mine and the western pits at its Cloudbreak mine in the Pilbara.
FMG said it planned to ship between 5 and 10 million tonnes of the WPF product in FY19, which will grow to 40mtpa once its Eliwana mine enters production in December 2020.
At a recent media and investor tour, FMG took visitors to its port, rail and Chichester Hub operations to view the West Pilbara Fines stockpiles.
“We’re expecting a couple of shipments in December, both into China to established large steel mill customers,” FMG chief operating officer Greg Lilleyman said at a media briefing.
The introduction of West Pilbara Fines comes at an opportune time for the company, which had experienced wider-than-normal discounts in recent years for its lower grade 58 per cent iron ore.
However, the miner remained confident the gap between prices received for lower and higher grade ore was beginning to narrow.
FMG chief executive Elizabeth Gaines said the new product would enable FMG to offer a more flexible product mix.
“Innovation in process and design is a key component of Fortescue’s strategy to efficiently and effectively deliver products from mine to market and the introduction of West Pilbara Fines will further enhance the range of ores available for our customers,” Ms Gaines said.
“Fortescue’s wholly owned, integrated mining operations and infrastructure, together with our innovative processing and blending strategy, provides us the flexibility to deliver West Pilbara Fines before full scale production begins on completion of the Eliwana development.
“It is pleasing to see Hunan Valin, a long standing and valued customer, receive the first shipment of West Pilbara Fines.”
Hunan Valin Steel Co chairman Cao Zhiaqiang said it was pleased to be the first steel mill customer for the West Pilbara Fines.
“We are very pleased to be the first steel mill customer for West Pilbara Fines. Fortescue continues to understand and respond to the market’s needs by expanding its product suite, while remaining focussed on delivering high value in use products,” Dr Zhiaqiang said.