Fortescue’s Iron Bridge to begin production this quarter; Q2 shipments rise

Ore processing facility at Iron Bridge. (Image courtesy of Fortescue Metals Group).

Australia’s Fortescue Metals Group on Friday confirmed its Iron Bridge project was on track to begin production at the end of the March quarter, realizing a key strategy to secure better prices for its ore.

The world’s No. 4 iron ore miner also reported 4% higher quarterly shipments, underpinned by strength across its key Western Australia (WA) operations, and kept its guidance for annual shipments unchanged.

Fortescue’s shares rose 2.1% to A$22.94 in early trading.

The Iron Bridge project in WA’s Pilbara region will allow Fortescue to blend high-grade output from the project with its typically lower grade ore, raising average quality above 60%. This will allow Fortescue to better compete with larger rivals BHP Group and Rio Tinto.

“Demand for Fortescue’s suite of iron ore products remains strong and our entry into the higher grade segment of the market has been well received,” said Andrew Forrest, iron ore magnate and Fortescue’s executive chairman.

The Iron Bridge Magnetite project, which has been a major plank of the miner’s growth strategy, has faced multiple cost blow outs and delays that led to the departure of its chief operating officer Greg Lilleyman and two other executives in early 2021.

Magnetite iron ore projects are also notoriously difficult to develop. China’s CITIC Pacific Sino Iron project in Western Australia, operated by a unit of investment holding firm CITIC Ltd, arrived 10 years late and billions of dollars over budget, for example.

Capital cost for Iron Bridge, 69% owned by Fortescue with a unit of Formosa Energy owning the rest, is estimated to be at the higher end of the $3.6 billion to $3.8 billion range, it said on Friday.

Fortescue shipped 49.4 million tonnes (mt) of iron ore in the three months ended Dec. 31, up from 47.5 mt a year earlier, and beating an RBC estimate of 48.5 mt.

(By Harshita Swaminathan, Melanie Burton and Roushni Nair; Editing by Sriraj Kalluvila and Maju Samuel)


Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *