BHP Billiton Ships Billionth Ton of Iron Ore to Japan
Australian mining giant BHP Billiton has hit a new milestone, shipping its billionth ton of iron ore to Japan.
The company, which shipped its first ton to Japan in 1966, celebrated the achievement with customers, joint venture participants and employees at Port Hedland in Western Australia.
“Today the high-quality iron ore we export from the Pilbara is an essential ingredient for Japan’s high-tech steel industry which leads the world in technology and efficiency,” said BHP president of iron ore Jimmy Wilson.
“BHP Billiton shipped its first tonne of iron ore to Japan in 1966 and we are proud of the nation-building role we have helped play since that time.”
Western Australia’s Pilbara region was built on Japan’s demand for the precious metal in the late 1960s and 70s. It helped shape the heavy industry, manufacturing and technology sectors WA enjoys today.
“We also owe much to Japan for their role in growing the iron ore industry in the Pilbara. Our joint venture participants ITOCHU and Mitsui contributed capital, and as trading companies they were a key link into Japanese markets,” said Wilson.
Iron ore production has grown since 1966. BHP’s production capacity now reaches 220 million tons per year and growing. According to Wilson, BHP is putting all the necessary components together to ensure the Australia’s mining industry prospers for a very long time.
“Over the past decade, we have invested US$24 billion in Western Australia’s mines, rail and port infrastructure and continue to adopt new technology to ensure our operations remain world-class,” said Wilson.
“As we enter our next phase of growth, we are continuing to improve our productivity, optimizing our installed capacity and working our assets harder and smarter to deliver on our customers’ expectations.”
BHP Billiton expects to ship its billionth ton of iron ore to China later this year.
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.