Flinders Mines has been granted Commonwealth and Western Australian Government environmental approvals for development of its flagship Pilbara Iron Ore Project (PIOP) in Western Australia.
The company says approvals for a 15 million tonne/annum iron ore operation significantly further de-risk the PIOP and that existing approvals also reinforce that it can be developed in an environmentally acceptable manner.
The Western Australian Minister for Environment has determined that Flinders’ PIOP can proceed subject to agreed conditions, while the Federal Government Department of Sustainability, Environment, Water, Population and Communities has granted Flinders approval to proceed with its ‘on-tenement’ mining and mining related activities of up to 15 million tonnes/annum.
Flinders will continue to progress remaining approvals pending finalization of infrastructure access arrangements and the commencement of mine construction activities. Native title and mining lease approvals have already been granted for the PIOP, based on a current iron resource of 917 million tonnes.
The company has also secured binding MoUs with four Chinese steel mills which will see the potential customers carry out technical and commercial evaluations of ore to assess its suitability for their iron-making operations.
“Flinders expects this will ultimately lead to Letters of Intent with a number of foundation customers. This is a significant milestone in development of the PIOP with potential customers showing strong interest in the Flinders iron ore product,” says managing director Gary Sutherland.
The location of the PIOP ensures Flinders Mines has multiple possible routes to market via the proposed Anketell Point port, Port Hedland or other existing rail-coast operations in the Pilbara. The company is targeting first production in the second half of 2015.
The PIOP is in the Pilbara region, about 60km northwest of Tom Price. It consists of the Blacksmith and Anvil tenements. Blacksmith hosts the cornerstone Delta deposit which is targeted for maiden production, and is between a number of existing and proposed developments. To the north is Rio Tinto’s Caliwingina iron ore resource, to the east is FMG’s Solomon iron ore hub, to the west API’s recently-approved West Pilbara Iron Ore Project and to the south, Rio Tinto’s Brockman 2 operations. The Anvil tenement is about 10km southwest of Blacksmith.
The PIOP hosts a JORC-compliant mineral resource of 917.3 million tonnes @ 55.2% iron, which comprises 190.5 million tonnes of Brockman Iron Deposit at 56.3% iron, 545.5 million tonnes of Detrital Iron Deposit @ 55.2% iron and 181.3 million tonnes of Channel Iron Deposit at 54.0% iron.
In January 2011, Flinders announced that a pre-feasibility study had confirmed the PIOP is economically robust and technically viable. It was conducted on the basis of initial annual production of 5 million tonnes and then 15 million after year 5. Flinders then embarked on a series of studies in the lead-up to a definitive feasibility study (DFS). Following completion of a value improvement study during 2011, Flinders announced it would target production of 15 million tonnes from start-up. A DFS is under way to evaluate this proposal.