Asia Iron Australia broke ground Friday on its Extension Hill Magnetite Project in the mid West. The project is expected to yield 10 million tonnes per annum of high-grade iron ore magnetite over 40 years.
Among those who attended the groundbreaking were officials from Chongqing, China. The Chongqing Chonggang Minerals Development Investment Limited is part-owner of the project and is considering increasing its $280 million investments, equivalent to a 60 per cent stake.
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CCMD is a joint venture between the Chongqing Iron and Steel Group and Chongqing Foreign Trade and Economic Cooperation Group.
The 35-man group was led by Ling Yueming, vice mayor of the Chongqing Municipal People's Government.
Asia Iron has started pre-development work on the site, located 85 kilometres east of Perinjon, including building an accommodation for 120 people. The mining firm expects to make its first shipment of magnetite to China in 2014.
"The Extension Hill Magnetite Project represents a significant element of the emerging magnetite industry, which will see substantial investments in processing plants in Australia that add value to otherwise unsaleable low grade ore," Asia Iron Australia Managing Director Bill Mackenzie said in a statement.
The project includes a 1 billion tonne open pit and an ore processing plant that will produce 10 million tonnes of high purity magnetite concentrates per year. The concentrate is sought by steel mills because of significant reductions in greenhouse gas emissions during smelting in blast furnaces.
Mackenzie said the concentrate would be transported through a slurry pipe to the Port of Geraldton for export. The $3-billion project is expected to create 2,000 jobs during the construction phase and 500 jobs when the mine becomes operational.