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.
Vale invests $150mn to extend life of Manitoba operations
Vale has announced a $150mn CAD investment to extend current mining activities in Thompson, Manitoba by 10 years while aggressive exploration drilling of known orebodies holds the promise of mining well past 2040.
Global energy transition is boosting the market for nickel
The Thompson Mine Expansion is a two-phase project. The announcement represents Phase 1 and includes critical infrastructure such as new ventilation raises and fans, increased backfill capacity and additional power distribution. The changes are forecast to improve current production by 30%.
“This is the largest single investment we have made in our Thompson operations in the past two decades,” said Mark Travers, Executive Vice-President for Base Metals with Vale. “It is significant news for our employees, for the Thompson community and for the Province of Manitoba.
“The global movement to electric vehicles, renewable energies and carbon reduction has shone a welcome spotlight on nickel – positioning the metal we mine as a key contributor to a greener future and boosting world demand. We are proud that Thompson can be part of that future and part of the low carbon solution.”
Vale continues drilling program at Manitoba
Coupled with today’s announcement, Vale is continuing an extensive drilling program to further define known orebodies and search for new mineralization.
“This $150mn investment is just one part of our ambitious Thompson turnaround story. It is an indicator of our confidence in a long future for the Thompson operations,” added Dino Otranto, Chief Operating Officer for Vale’s North Atlantic Base Metals operations.
“Active collaboration between our design team, technical services, USW Local 6166, and our entire Thompson workforce has delivered a safe, efficient and fit-for-purpose plan that will enable us to extract the Thompson nickel resources for many years to come.”
The Thompson orebody was first discovered in 1956 by Vale (then known as Inco) following the adoption of new exploration technology and the largest exploration program to-date in the company’s history. Mining of the Thompson orebody began in 1961.
“We see the lighting of a path forward to a sustainable and prosperous future for Vale Base Metals in Manitoba,” said Gary Annett, General Manager of Vale’s Manitoba Operations.