High hopes for iron ore mine
Monday, 28th November, 2011
By Paula Doran
An iron project south of Broken Hill could have a mine life of up to 70 years, according to the chairman of Carpentaria Exploration Ltd.
The company is about to begin a full feasibility study on the Hawsons Iron Project and according to executive chairman Nick Sheard, results of pre-feasibility costings have increased confidence that the project will go ahead.
“I have full confidence that this will happen; we’re looking at a strong, robust project with very high grade ore,” he said.
The company last week released new research which showed a big rise in the net value of the project, up 14 per cent to $3.2 billion, based on lower projected operating costs.
Mr Sheard said the company was looking at cheaper crushing options for the magnetite iron ore to reduce costs.
“Because the ore is so soft we’re able to look at unconventional crushing techniques that are less power hungry.
“We’re also researching various transport options to get the ore to port, and again, we’re hoping to keep the costs down.”
Located 60 kilometres south of Broken Hill, Hawson’s Well is near Burta and Wonga Stations.
“Carpentaria was originally exploring for copper and gold, but we soon realised that there was iron down there and because we are a junior explorer we were able to quickly adapt the exploration.”
What they found was high grade iron, above the quality of much of the iron ore found in WA’s Pilbara.
“It’s very high grade iron, 69 per cent, so we’ll be getting a 20 per cent premium on that.”
The first major iron project in the region’s history, Mr Sheard predicts the open pit mine could be producing as early as 2015, and at its peak, will have a workforce of up to 1000.
“We begin the full feasibility study in May next year, and that will enable us to get a hell of a lot more detail. So far everything we’ve had come back is very, very positive.
“But we’ve got a few hurdles to jump before we get to the mining process. We have to get the various governmental approvals, and while I don’t anticipate any problems with that, one never knows how long that will take.”
Carpentaria will undertake a more detailed drilling on-site over six months to glean more as the project progresses.
- 30 per cent of steel produced globally uses iron from magnetite sources, making it one of the world’s most important minerals.
- While hematite is Australia’s main source of iron ore, magnetite rules the roost in China and North America,
- Magnetite ore can be processed into iron ore pellets (as planned by Carpentaria), making it a high-quality feedstock for the production of premium quality, low impurity steel.
- Macquarie Research data has shown the growing value of magnetite, due to declining hematite grades.