Pardoo Mine is located 70km east of Port Hedland in the Northern Pilbara region of Western Australia. The mine produces low-alumina haematite ore. The mine is 100% owned by Atlas Iron.
Pardoo is Atlas Iron’s first ever mine development. The current mining operation at Pardoo consists of a direct shipping ore (DSO) project which has been underway since October 2008.
Discovery and mine life of Pardoo
Atlas Iron discovered DSO grade iron ore at Pardoo in 2005. The DSO project started with an identified iron ore resource of 7.4 million tonnes (mt) to be produced at a rate of 1.5 million tonnes per annum (mtpa) over five to six years.
Kolomela mine is located 22km away from Postmasburg in the Northern Cape Province of South Africa. The mine produces direct shipping iron ore.
The current DSO mine life at Pardoo is three years, according to an estimate made in the beginning of 2013. Pardoo’s DSO production capacity was further increased and the mine life further extended with additional discovery of DSO resources.
In addition, 14 separate DSO resources and one channel iron deposit resource have been defined at Pardoo for further exploration.
The Ridley magnetite project is the most notable development at the Pardoo mine. The magnetite project is expected to extend the mine life of Pardoo by another 30 years.
Pardoo mine geology
The DSO haematite and the Ridley magnetite deposits of Pardoo are hosted towards the north of Archaean Pilbara craton. The deposits lie within the Ord greenstone belt which is separated from the Goldsworthy greenstone belt in the south.
The deposits underlie an area of 12kmx7km and represent an S-shaped structure with a strike length equivalent to 20km.
The outcrop of Pardoo’s iron ore is dominated by fine-grained clastic and chemical meta-sedimentary rocks of the Gorge Creek group with the mineralisation associated with the Nimingarra formation.
Reserves at Pardoo mine
The DSO ore reserves at Pardoo stood at 3.1mt grading 56.1% Fe, including proven reserves of 100,000t and probable reserves of three million tons.
The probable magnetite reserves at Pardoo are 970mt grading 36.0% Fe.
Mining and processing of iron ore at Pardoo
Open cut mining is carried out at eight small open pits, including Bobby, Alice, Chloe, Olivia, Emma and South Limb pits.
The mining involves drill, blast, load and haul. The mine work force comprises 100 people. The mine uses Anfo and emulsion explosives, Hitachi ZX330-LC-3 drill rigs, Komatsu 785-7 trucks, Komatsu PC1250 excavators, and Caterpillar D98 dozers.
The mined ore is crushed, screened and stockpiled on the site. The ore is then transported by covered road trains to Port Hedland, for shipment. The ore is stockpiled at the port before being loaded into ships at the Utah Point facility in Port Hedland. The Utah Point facility has a capacity of 6mtpa.
Iron ore production
DSO production from Pardoo for the 2012 financial year totalled 1.45mt, compared with 1.72mt in 2011.
Contractors involved with the Pardoo mining project
The mining contract (drilling, blasting, excavation and hauling) was initially awarded to CDE in May 2008 for a period of three years.
Roy Hill iron ore project is located in the Pilbara region of Australia. The mine is part of the Chichester Range in Western Australia and is the biggest undeveloped Marra Mamba deposit in the region.
The contractor was, however, changed in late 2009. Mining & Civil Australia (MACA Mining) was awarded the new mining contract (load, haul, drill, blast, crushing and screening) up to August 2013.
MACA awarded a short-term contract to Rock on Ground (ROG) for additional blasthole drilling at Pardoo.
Orica has been subcontracted to provide blasting services. McAleese is the road haulage subcontractor for Pardoo.
Trimble supplied the mine survey equipments and the mine planning software was provided by Vulcan.
Flight services to the mine site are provided by Qantas.
Details of the Ridley magnetite project
The prefeasibility study for the Ridley magnetite project at Pardoo was completed in April 2009. It envisages that the project has the potential to produce 15mtpa of high-grade (averaging 68.3% Fe) magnetite concentrate for over 30 years.
The project will involve conventional truck-and-shovel open pit mining, in-pit crushing stations, conveyors, waste and tailings storage provision, and a 48mtpa concentration plant with multi-stage autogenous grinding and magnetic separation facilities.
The Ridley magnetite project is estimated to cost A$2,972m ($3.07bn) at 2009 price level. The average operating cost per tonne of concentrate is estimated at A$36.22 ($37.46).