World number one miner BHP Billiton (ASX, NYSE: BHP) officially inaugurated Wednesday its Jimblebar iron ore mine expansion and processing hub in the Pilbara, five months after safety issues at Newman Airport delayed the original scheduled opening last year.
The US$3.6 billion project achieved first production in the September quarter, six months ahead of schedule and it is on track to deliver an additional 35 million tonnes per annum (mtpa) of iron ore, with the capacity to expand to 55mtpa.
The expansion increases BHP’s Pilbara supply chain capacity to more than 220mtpa.
The company’s iron-ore president Jimmy Wilson said that extensive planning and research went into designing the mine, with productivity measures and technology central to the design plan.
“Our pursuit of productivity gains and operational excellence is delivering significant value at Western Australia Iron Ore. The business is now well positioned to deliver high margin volume growth at a substantially lower cost,” he said.
The Jimblebar project includes a new fleet of earthmoving equipment, the duplication of the rail line from the main line to the hub, a new stockyard with four million tonne capacity, a new primary crusher and a new ore handling plant.
Other infrastructure includes mobile equipment and fixed plant workshops, fuel storage and distribution facilities, water and waste treatment plants, administration buildings and a state-of-the-art accommodation village.
The official opening of Jimblebar, jointly funded by BHP and Japanese partners ITOCHU Corporation and Mitsui, was originally scheduled for November last year. However, an unsafe tarmac at Newman Airport forced the ceremony to be postponed until today.