No date for first Roy Hill ore shipment
■ Roy Hill chief executive Barry Fitzgerald says the Gina Rinehart majority-owned company still does not have a firm date for its first ore shipments, saying “it will be when it will be”.
And he would not comment on whether Roy Hill’s relationship with lead contractor Samsung was likely to end in legal disputes over steep penalty payments, which would likely be triggered by its failure to meet an October deadline for the first shipment.
Speaking on the sidelines of a Committee for the Economic Development of Australia and Chamber of Minerals and Energy function last week Mr Fitzgerald said Roy Hill still hoped it could ship its first ore by the end of the month, but could not guarantee its infrastructure would be commissioned by then.
Roy Hill had originally set a September deadline for its first iron ore shipments, which was then pushed back to October. It admitted recently it now expected first shipments to leave Port Hedland in November or December.
Last week, Mr Fitzgerald said Roy Hill was using low-grade ore to commission its export infrastructure at the port, including car dumpers and ore stackers, but had not yet fed the first ore through its processing plant at the Roy Hill mine.
“We would hope to see first ore on ship some time in November but recognising that commissioning is problematic, it will be when it will be.
“It’s not a matter of not trying, it’s just a matter of stepping through the process,” he said.
Mr Fitzgerald said there had been no particular technical problem at any part of the project’s mine, rail and port infrastructure, but commissioning any complex operation was a complicated process.
“The reality is that when you’re commissioning a plant you get faults — you find out what the fault was and you fix it up and then you move on. It’s a very structured and technical process to make sure it’s not only safe but when you start up it doesn’t break anything else, and doesn’t break itself, ” he said.
Mr Fitzgerald would not comment on suggestions Samsung faced steep penalty payments if it failed to deliver first ore on ship by the end of this week.
“Commercial relationships between ourselves and Samsung are confidential; that’s the way it is and that’s the way it will remain. So that is a confidential matter,” he said.
“We’ve got a contract. Obviously we’ve been dealing with Samsung for a long time and we will continue to deal with them.”
Roy Hill chief executive Barry Fitzgerald speaking at the CEDA annual resources round-up as Roy Hill prepares for its first shipment.