Australian iron ore company Fortescue Metals has deferred the commissioning of the Iron Bridge Magnetite Project in the Pilbara region of Western Australia to the second half of the calendar year 2022.

Said to be one of the biggest magnetite resources in Australia, the project is being developed in phases by an unincorporated joint venture (UJV) between FMG Iron Bridge subsidiary FMG Magnetite (69%) and Formosa Steel IB (31%).

FMG Iron Bridge is owned by Fortescue Metals Group (88%) and Baosteel Resources International Company (12%).

Following a detailed review, Fortescue increased the estimated capital cost of the project from the previous $2.6bn to $3bn.

In a press statement, Fortescue said: “The review has considered the forecast capital estimate and schedule for the project, taking into account the strength of the Australian dollar, access to resources and specialist skills, as well as other market factors.”

Fortescue chief executive officer Elizabeth Gaines said: “The newly appointed Iron Bridge project team will draw on all of Fortescue’s DNA, world class expertise and our Values as we challenge ourselves through innovative thinking and capital discipline.

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“The team will assess the pathway to underpin our revised forecast capital estimate, as well as the identification and mitigation of execution and scheduling risks through a comprehensive review of the project.”

Fortescue said that the project’s technical and commercial assessment is currently underway, and is planned for completion in 12 weeks.

The assessment primarily focuses on magnetite concentrate transportation solution and return water pipelines to Port Hedland; enhanced utilisation of the company’s port and rail infrastructure; and contractor strategy.

Over the next 12 weeks, limited works are planned to be conducted at the project including engineering, off-site fabrication, procurement activities, and site-based civil works.

Expected to create nearly 3,000 construction jobs and more than 900 jobs once operational, the Iron Bridge project expected to have more than 20 years of operational life.

Last year, Fortescue Metals awarded a $127m contract to Weir Group to provide aftermarket components for the Iron Bridge magnetite project.