Hancock Prospecting and Roy Hill have started shipping iron ore from the $10bn Roy Hill Project in the Chichester Range in the Pilbara region of Western Australia.
The shipment started from Port Hedland on the Mv Anangel Explorer tanker to Posco's steel mills in South Korea.
Hancock and Roy Hill chairman Gina Rinehart said: "Given that the mega Roy Hill Project was a largely greenfield project that carried with it significant risks and considerable cost, it is remarkable that a relatively small company such as Hancock Prospecting has been able to take on and complete a project of this sheer size and complexity."
"The Roy Hill Project has recorded many achievements already and with the first shipment it will also hold one of the fastest construction start-ups of any major greenfield resource project in Australia."
Following the initial shipment, Roy Hill and its owners will change their focus on a rapid ramp-up of production to the project's design capacity.
Hancock executive director Tad Watroba said: "The initial shipments, such as this one today from Roy Hill, will only represent a small portion of its capacity of 55Mtpa and their assessments don't take into account that over 50% of Roy Hill's output will be taken by the minority investment partners who are outside of China.
"With more than 90% of Roy Hill's production secured under long-term contracts, very little ore will actually enter the spot iron ore market."
Hancock Prospecting owns a majority stake in the Roy Hill project with a 70% interest.
The remaining 30% stake is held by a consortia comprising Posco (12.5%), Marubeni (15%), and China Steel (2.5%).
Image: Roy Hill has indicated the site has reserves of more than 2.4 billion tonnes. Photo: courtesy of Roy Hill.