PERTH (miningweekly.com) - Iron-ore major Fortescue Metals on Monday reported that it had achieved a record 100-million-ton run rate during December through its Herb Elliot port facility.
The miner said the port loaded some 8.5-million tons of product onto 45 ships during December, to achieve a run rate that was 23% higher than the previous monthly record set in May last year.
The increase in throughput was as a result of a number of milestones achieved in December, including the ramp-up of the second ore processing facility at the Christmas Creek mine, first ore from the Solomon mine, and the opening of the Hamersley rail line.
CEO Nev Power said on Monday that the latest record was an outstanding end to 2012, exceeding the previously announced targeted production rate of 95-million tons a year by the end of 2012.
“While the year has been a difficult one with volatility in the iron-ore market, we finished the year on a huge high. This achievement demonstrates the continuing ability of Fortescue’s people and infrastructure to achieve great results.”
Meanwhile, Power noted that the company was expecting to continue setting new records in 2013, with the 20-million-ton-a-year Firetail deposit, at the Solomon mine, already ramping up, allowing Fortescue to reach its near-term production rate of 115-million tons a year by this quarter.
Fortescue also recently announced that it would complete the Kings deposit, also at the Solomon mine, with development set to resume this month.
The miner deferred the Kings project in September last year in response to the volatile market conditions; however, it said at the end of December that the recent improvements in iron-ore prices and the market outlook, along with a number of measures undertaken by the company itself, underpinned a decision to complete the Kings deposit.
The resumption of development would enable a smooth transition of the construction workforce from the nearby Firetail. With this decision, the 40-million-ton-a-year Kings deposit was expected to lift Fortescue’s production capacity to 155-million tons by the end of 2013.