Anglo American has commissioned its new 9Mtpa Kolomela iron ore mine in South Africa’s Northern Cape and the mine has shipped its first product of 100,000t of iron ore lump from the port of Saldanha to customers in China.

The company said that Kolomela has been commissioned five months ahead of schedule, on budget.

Anglo American CEO of Kumba Iron Ore business Chris Griffith said that the shipment was a significant milestone towards achieving the production ramp-up schedule of 4-5 million tons in 2012 and the expectation of reaching full production of 9Mtpa in 2013.

“The commissioning of the Kolomela project is in line with our growth strategy of ramping our South African production up to 70Mtpa by 2019,” he added.

Chief executive Cynthia Carroll said that three of the company’s four major projects were now ramping up to produce significant near-term volume growth at highly competitive operating costs and capital intensity ratios.

“Our focus now is on achieving safe and reliable nameplate capacities across these three new operations, on continuing to progress our Minas-Rio iron ore project in Brazil – which with Kolomela and Sishen will enable us to present customers with product optionality from different geographies – and on advancing our other approved and pre-approval projects, such as Grosvenor in Australia and Quellaveco in Peru,” added Carroll.

The company has also completed the delivery of the 36,000Mtpa Barro Alto nickel project in Brazil in March this year.

Anglo American also completed the expansion of the Los Bronces copper mine in Chile in November 2011. The expansion is expected to double the production.

The company’s fourth and largest major project – Minas-Rio has also made very significant progress.