CITIC keeps faith in magnetite project
CITIC’s massive Sino Iron project will be a feature of the Pilbara landscape for decades to come, CITIC Pacific Mining chief executive Chen Zeng says.
Mr Zeng said last week the multi-billion magnetite iron ore project was finally putting its troubled history behind it, and would be running at its full 24 million tonne a year run rate within 18 months to two years.
CITIC began commissioning the last two of six production lines at the Pilbara magnetite project last month. Mr Zeng said Sino Iron was running at a rate just below 12mtpa, but he believed the complex processing facility could be ramped up relatively quickly now all of its mills were turning.
The project is China’s biggest single investment in the Australian resources sector.
CITIC says it has targeted as high a level of local content as possible. About 90 per cent of its workforce is Australian, mostly fly-in fly-out workers, but the company says it uses local Pilbara businesses when and where it can.
Labour for its regular maintenance shutdowns is sourced locally, providing up to 100 temporary positions across the year, and CITIC says it puts more than $25 million a year directly into the Pilbara economy by using Karratha as a regional supply base — hiring equipment from local franchises and using local plumbing and electrical contractors for routine work.
Originally due to begin producing by 2010, Sino Iron did not ship its first ore until 2013. In early 2014, when only two lines were running, CITIC admitted it had already spent $US10 billion on building the project.
Mr Zeng said the long term future of the mine was underpinned by the fact that CITIC had signed a number of long-term contracts with steel mills outside of its own group, and the fact it was, for the first time, now trialling use of Sino Iron concentrate in non-Chinese mills.