Construction of BHP’s South Flank iron mine, in Western Australia, is some 84% complete, project manager Simon Thomas said at the Global Iron and Steel Forecast conference.
According to the executive, first production from the operation was still targeted for mid-2021.
The world’s no.1 miner announced in June that would place on hold part of its $3.4 billion expansion plans for South Flank, which would have destroyed dozens of sacred aboriginal sites.
The move followed a national backlash over Rio Tinto’s blasting of a 46,000-year-old indigenous site.
BHP’s expansion covers an area containing at least 40 aboriginal sites and rock shelters estimated to be up to 15,000 years old.
Thomas said that BHP would work to bring the South Flank operation to nameplate capacity over the course of several years.
South Flank is BHP’s preferred option to replace the 80-million-tonne-a-year Yandi mine, which is reaching the end of its mine life.
The project is expected to create 2,500 construction jobs, more than 600 operational roles and generate opportunities for Western Australian suppliers. The mine is expected to produce iron ore for more than 25 years.