Fortescue Metals receives environmental approval from EPA for Pilbara iron ore project

Magnetite Image credit: flickr User: greyherbert

The Environmental Protection Authority (EPA) has given a conditional environment approval for stage two of Fortescue Metals Group’s (FMG) Iron Bridge magnetite project in the Pilbara, subject to 17 conditions.

Magnetite Image credit: flickr User: greyherbert
Image credit: flickr User: greyherbert

If all goes as planned, the Iron Bridge mine will be Fortescue’s first foray into magnetite iron ore, which sells for more than the common hematite but also costs more to produce, making it less lucrative in today’s falling price climate.

According to the article on Yahoo, EPA Chairman Dr Paul Vogel said a Public Environmental Review and extensive assessment against several environmental factors — including flora and vegetation, terrestrial fauna, subterranean fauna, hydrological processes and inland waters environmental quality and offsets — has found the proposal to meet the Authority’s objectives subject to a suite of strict conditions.

The open cut mine — which is located 110 kilometres south-southeast of Port Hedland — is expected to operate for 45 years, producing 15 million tonnes of magnetite a year.

“This is a large mine with a long life expectancy so the EPA has recommended seventeen rigorous conditions to minimise and mitigate any potential environmental impacts,” Dr Vogel said.


He said the 17 conditions could ensure the project was managed to minimise and mitigate any threats.

According to the article on the Herald Sun, Iron Bridge would clear 514ha of native vegetation.

The 9.5mtpa, 68% magnetite concentrate stage two construction is expected to begin in 2015, subject to a feasibility study and at Fortescue’s option.

Stage one of the construction, which has already commenced, is expected to take 12 months, with first production of 1.5mtpa of 66% magnetite-hematite ore expected early next year.

Iron Bridge is a joint venture between Fortescue, China’s Baosteel and Taiwanese Formosa Plastics Group.