Pil­bara job chance for nickel work­ers

North West Telegraph - - Telegraph News - Stu­art McKin­non

Work­ers left job­less af­ter First Quan­tum Min­er­als an­nounced the clo­sure of the Raven­sthorpe nickel project last week will be given an op­por­tu­nity to ap­ply for new po­si­tions at the Woodie Woodie man­ganese mine in the Pil­bara.

The new Chi­nese owner of the mine, TMI, an­nounced last week it would spend $30 mil­lion bring­ing the idled as­set back into pro­duc­tion, cre­at­ing 300 jobs.

TMI has al­ready hired 115 peo­ple to help process low-grade stock­piles ahead of a full ram­pup by Oc­to­ber and first ex­ports through Utah Point at Port Hed­land by Novem­ber.

The com­pany plans to talk with First Quan­tum Min­er­als about hir­ing ap­pro­pri­ately skilled work­ers who are be­ing let go from Raven­sthorpe as it winds down to care and main­te­nance by Oc­to­ber.

The Pil­bara mine is ex­pected to op­er­ate at a pro­duc­tion rate of 1.3mtpa to 1.5mtpa ini­tially, with the com­pany plan­ning to lift out­put next year.

TMI is also ex­pected to spend about $30 mil­lion a year on ex­plo­ration to ex­tend Woodie Woodie’s seven-year mine life.

TMI chair­man Tian­jiang Jia said Woodie Woodie of­fered a high-qual­ity, high-grade (46 per cent) man­ganese ore with low im­pu­ri­ties, which the com­pany was keen to source.

As the world’s big­gest elec­trolytic man­ganese metal pro­ducer, TMI had been a cus­tomer of Woodie Woodie for seven years be­fore its clo­sure. Mr Jia said the mine was an im­por­tant part of TMI’s in­ter­na­tional strat­egy to in­te­grate its min­ing and pro­duc­tion op­er­a­tions.

The price of man­ganese has more than dou­bled from the $US2/dmt for a 44 per cent prod­uct it was fetch­ing in Jan­uary last year when the mine’s pre­vi­ous owner, Ukrainian bil­lion­aire Gen­nadiy Bo­golyubov, was forced to shut­ter it, leav­ing 380 work­ers with­out a job.

TMI bought the mine’s op­er­at­ing sub­sidiary Con­sol­i­dated Min­er­als in Novem­ber for an undis­closed sum and hinted at the mine’s re-open­ing.

Con­sMin chief ex­ec­u­tive Oleg Sheyko said the com­pany was con­fi­dent the re­cov­er­ing man­ganese mar­ket would sus­tain Woodie Woodie for years to come.

News of the re­open­ing is a con­crete sign of the grad­ual re­cov­ery of WA’s re­sources sec­tor, which has been bat­tered by soft com­mod­ity prices in re­cent years.

Pic­ture: Steve Fer­rier

Con­sMin chief ex­ec­u­tive Oleg Sheyko, TMI chair­man Tian­jiang Jia and Con­sMin vice-chair­man Jacky Che­ung dis­cuss the re­open­ing of Woodie Woodie.

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