Pilbara job chance for nickel workers
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.
ConsMin chief executive Oleg Sheyko, TMI chairman Tianjiang Jia and ConsMin vice-chairman Jacky Cheung discuss the reopening of Woodie Woodie.