Gina Rinehart’s Atlas Iron is seeking a green light to develop a new iron ore project in Western Australia and looking at the potential of mining other deposits as prices spike in the wake of Vale production woes.
Atlas, owned by Mrs Rinehart’s Hancock Prospecting, has sought approvals from WA’s Environmental Protection Authority for development of the long-stalled Corunna Downs project in the iron ore-rich Pilbara region.
A Hancock spokesman said on Friday that Redstone, the subsidary that owns Atlas, was evaluating other more substantial ore bodies and suggested it was looking to get them into production sooner rather than later if they measured up.
“Redstone since acquisition has been operating the Atlas business and continues to evaluate further development of ore bodies, including the relatively small Corunna project,” the spokesman said.
“Timely approvals and development of Atlas properties would assist State revenue and job sustainability.”
The EPA application for Corunna Downs reveals Atlas plans to develop five open pits for conventional drill and blast, load and haul operations.
Under the proposal, Atlas would mine 23.3 million tonnes of iron ore over about six years.
The Corunna Downs project has been on ice since late in 2016 when Atlas, then listed on the ASX, flagged that a final investment decision was only months away.
Atlas said at the time that Corunna Downs, near Marble Bar, would cost between $47 million and $53 million to build based on recycling existing equipment and infrastructure.
The mine life was estimated at up to six years based on an ore reserve of 21 million tonnes at 57 per cent iron with Atlas suggesting there was potential to extend the mine life.
The original plan was for four open pits, a processing plant, road construction and upgrades and a 150-bed mining camp.
Hancock Prospecting owns the 55 million-tonne-a-year Roy Hill mine in the Pilbara, Australia’s largest single iron ore mine.
It acquired Atlas last year after a bitter battle over the struggling junior miner between Mrs Rinehart and Fortescue Metals Group chairman Andrew Forrest.
The two billionaires slugged it out after Chris Ellison’s Mineral Resources kicked off a bidding war with a $280 million all-scrip takeover bid.
Hancock Prospecting eventually triumphed after upping its offer to about $413 million and convincing Fortescue to sell a blocking stake in Atlas.
Source: Financial Review, 7 June 2019