CITIC keeps faith in mag­netite project

Pilbara News - - News - Nick Evans The re­porter trav­elled to Sino Iron as a guest of CITIC Pa­cific Min­ing.

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.

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