THE board of Perth-based producer Atlas Iron has granted approval for the company to progress its Pilbara-based Mt Webber iron ore mine to development, in a joint venture with Altura Mining.
Lying 230km south-southeast of Port Hedland, the direct shipping ore mine already has environmental approval, enabling the two companies to commence immediate development works.
The fifth mine development for Atlas Iron in about five years, Mt Webber’s operations are expected to begin in the final three months of 2013, with first ore shipments from mid 2014.
The new mine has an initial life of 18 years at a 3 million tonnes per annum production rate, with the ore trucked by road train to Utah Point port for the opening phase of development.
However, the two companies plan to increase production to a rate of 6mtpa in the second stage of development, ideally featuring a rail transport agreement as a cost-effective adjustment for the produce increase.
Atlas stated it could fully fund the $146 million capital development cost for the mine’s 3mtpa case, through existing cash at bank.
The project’s construction would employ 200 people, increasing to 280 when the mine enters operation.
Atlas managing director Ken Brinsden stated the importance of Mt Webber as a milestone for the company’s ongoing success as an iron ore miner.
“Mt Webber is the largest of our Horizon 1 mines, and provides us with high quality, long life production, which will enable us to reach our targeted 12mtpa production rate by the June quarter of 2014,” Mr Brinsden said.
“This positions the company to deliver strong cash flows, which will in turn underpin returns to shareholders and enable Atlas to consider further investment in its pipeline of quality growth projects.”