BHP Billiton officially opened the new US$3.2 billion Jimblebar iron ore mine in the Pilbara region of Western Australia, 40 km east of Newman.
According to the news release by BHP Billiton, the mine is expected to deliver phase one capacity of 35 million tonnes per annum (mtpa) by the end of 2015 financial year and has the capacity to expand to 55 mtpa.
The Premier of Western Australia, the Hon. Colin Barnett, and joint venture participants ITOCHU Corporation (ITOCHU) and Mitsui & Co., Ltd (Mitsui) attended the opening ceremony.
According to Jimmy Wilson, President of Iron Ore at BHP Billiton, the company dedicated numerous hours to extensive planning and research to design the mining operation, “with productivity measures and technology central to the design plan.”
“Mobile crib rooms and fuelling stations have been positioned closer to the mine pits so our trucks and equipment spend more time moving earth and less time travelling or parked out of action,” he said.
“Our pursuit of productivity gains and operational excellence is delivering significant value at Western Australia Iron Ore. The business is now well positioned to deliver high margin volume growth at a substantially lower cost. We are also pleased to announce we are extending our Jimblebar autonomous truck trial to the neighbouring Wheelarra operations using six Caterpillar 793-F trucks in the second trial.”
Mr Wilson further acknowledged the positive relationships between employees, Indigenous land owners and joint venture participants ITOCHU and Mitsui, stating that they have been crucial to the success of the Western Australian business.
“The agreement we have with the traditional owners will build on our existing relationship and will ensure that the Nyiyaparli people can share in the benefits of the new mine. Over the past two years alone, we have invested over A$1.3 billion in the Western Australian community, including community projects, town servicing infrastructure, training opportunities and regional development activities and accommodation.”
The Jimblebar project includes a new fleet of earthmoving equipment, the duplication of the rail line from the main line to the Jimblebar hub, a new stockyard with four million tonne capacity, a new primary crusher and a new ore handling plant.
The official opening of Jimblebar was originally scheduled for 5 November last year; however, due to an unsafe tarmac at Newman Airport, the ceremony had to be postponed until yesterday.
Further information on BHP Billiton can be found at: www.bhpbilliton.com.