Atlas Iron Opens Mt. Webber Mine in Pilbara
Atlas Iron has officially opened the Mt. Webber mine in Pilbara of Western Australia. The iron ore mine is the company’s fifth in the region.
Production at the Mt. Webber mine is already producing iron ore at a rate of three million tons per year and the company expects to reach six million tons following the commissioning of the second phase expansion at the end of the year.
According to Atlas’ managing director Ken Brinsden, the company has been able to take advantage of Pilbara’s cheap labor market.
"As a result we've got some cost-effective contracts in place but also it's a very low-cost mine due to the low strip ratio. It's quite unusual in that regard because we don't have to move a lot of waste in order to access the ore."
He added, "These lower capital and operating costs continue to improve our already strong position on the global cost curve, and against our peers in Australia.”
The Mt. Webber mine is expected to make a long-term impact on Pilbara.
"The low $212 million capital cost of the project includes a substantial contribution towards road upgrades in the region, which benefits all Pilbara road users,” said Brinsden.
The mine, which is a joint venture project with Altura Mining, is located approximately 140 miles south-east of Port Hedland and the company’s lowest-cost operation to date.
"We are also proud that an infrastructure sharing arrangement with Altura Mining has helped foster another independent producer and unlock what would otherwise be a stranded resource for the benefit of both parties, the community, and the State of Western Australia," said Brinsden.
From 2013 to 2014, Atlas Iron’s ore shipment from Pilbara operations has increased 47 percent to 10.9 million tons.
Copper production from top ten companies to increase by 3.8%
Copper production from the world’s top companies is set to increase by up to 3.8% this year, following a fall of 0.2% in 2020, GlobalData analysis reveals. Last year’s marginal slump saw production drop to 11.76 million tonnes (Mt).
The initial impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on mining operations was immense, however, six of the ten largest copper producers succeeded in increasing output last year. In 2021, copper production from the top ten copper companies is expected to bounce back, rising by up to 3.8%, to reach 12.2Mt, according to GlobalData, a leading data and analytics company.
The highest increase in copper production was by Canada’s First Quantum, which, despite all the challenges, reported 10.4% growth in 2020. The company’s Sentinel mine in Zambia and Cobre Panama were key contributors to this growth. While the latter remained under care and maintenance between April and August 2020, it delivered record production levels during the subsequent months.
Codelco, the world’s largest producer of the red metal used in electric vehicles, also bucked the trend.
Vinneth Bajaj, Associate Project Manager at GlobalData, commented: “Despite Codelco reporting over 3,400 active cases during July 2020, the company achieved 1.2% growth in its production in 2020. The company implemented a four-phase plan, as part of the COVID-19 measures, to ensure the health and safety of its employees, while also avoiding any significant impact to its copper output.”
Although the overall impact was minimal, declines in production were observed from Glencore (8.2%), Antofagasta (4.7%), BHP (3.9%) and Freeport McMoRan (1.3%). Reduced operational workforces due to COVID-19 measures, lower ore grades and production halts due to maintenance were the key disruptors to output during 2020.
The move towards electric vehicles and clean energy from renewables sources such as solar panels and wind turbines has driven the copper price to all-time highs. Copper has been among the best performers over the last month where metals ranging from aluminum to iron ore have surged to their highest prices in years. The rally is being fueled by stimulus measures, near-zero interest rates and signs that economies are recovering from the global pandemic.