Sino Iron ships first concentrate to China 4 years late

Sino Iron ships first concentrate to China 4 years lateCITIC Pacific's doomed $8 billion Sino Iron venture — the first Chinese-built mining project in Australia— has finally loaded its first ship with magnetite concentrate going to steel mills in China's Jiangsu province, four years behind schedule and more than $6bn over budget.

The historic event, witnessed by a few authorities and Chinese reporters, marked the start of a long-debated and delayed endeavour, considered the biggest of its kind in the world.

Sino Iron’s main goal was to break the dominance of the three largest iron ore miners, BHP Billiton, Rio Tinto and Vale. Instead, FT.com (subs. required) reports, the Western Australia-based project became a cautionary tale of the difficulties Chinese enterprises face as they seek to expand abroad. And the trio continues to be the main suppliers of high-quality ore to China steel industry, which imports close to 60% of its iron ore.

Western Australia Premier Colin Barnett told local media the company had spent $4.3bn on Australian content to date, and employed more than 4,000 people at peak construction.

"Sino Iron is one of China's biggest investments in the Australian resources sector and at full capacity will be the biggest single-stage magnetite project in the world," Barnett was quoted as saying by The Australian.

Once in full operation, the mine is expected to produce 27.6 million tonnes per annum of iron ore concentrate. In addition to the mine, the project comprises a desalination plant, a concentrator, a desalination plant and a port in Cape Preston.

Image courtesy of Big Lift Shipping