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Western Desert Resources (WDR) developed the Roper Bar Direct Shipping iron open project in the Roper Bar region of Australia’s Northern Territory, which hosts three of the world’s biggest iron ore mines.
The project, which is estimated to cost $160m, is expected to produce 1.5 million tonnes of ore in its first year of operation, which is likely to increase to three million tonnes per annum by the third year. It is estimated to produce approximately 24 million tonnes of iron ore over its nine-year mine life.
Construction of the iron ore mine commenced in 2012. Mining activities commenced in July 2013 and the first ore was shipped in November 2013. WDR made a 20-year port access agreement with Xstrata for accessing the load-out facilities at the Bing Bong port.
The entire iron ore produced at the Roper Bar project is purchased by Noble Resources under an off-take agreement for a period of five years. Noble also provided a revolving credit facility for meeting the working capital requirements.
Roper Bar mine resources
Roper Bar iron ore province comprises four exploration licenses granted in the Northern Territory and is extended over approximately 1,900km². The mine is sub-divided into two project areas, Roper bar and Mountain Creek.
Roy Hill iron ore project is located in the Pilbara region of Australia.
The iron ore province is located within the McArthur Basin and extends over approximately 180,000km². The basin comprises sedimentary rocks of late Paleoproterozoic to early Mesoproterozoic ages. The stratigraphy is made up of undeformed and unmetamorphosed sediments of the Mesoproterozoic Roper Group.
At the top of this stratigraphy, an oolitic ironstone formation called Sherwin Formation occurs in outcrop and under shallow cover. The formation comprises all the known iron mineralisation and deposits.
The combined measured, indicated and inferred resources of the Roper Bar mine are estimated at 611.5 million tonnes of iron ore at 40.3% Fe.
Mining at Roper Bar
A conventional truck and shovel along with drill and blast method is applied at the Roper Bar open pit mine. The blasted ore will be extracted using a hydraulic excavator and dump trucks. It will then be loaded onto haulage trucks and moved to the run-of-mine (ROM) stockpile.
The ore will undergo crushing and screening, following which the higher grade ore will be directly shipped while the lower grade ore will undergo processing or beneficiation prior to shipping. The processing plant has a capacity to process three million tonnes of ore per annum.
Ore will be transported by a haul road to the Bing Bong port and stored at Xstrata’s facilities before exportation.
Financing the iron project
Macquarie Bank has provided an interim credit facility of $30m for the mine development. An institutional placement of $17.4m was also raised for the project development. CBA Equities and Ord Minnett were the joint lead managers and book runners for the placement.
Roper Bar project contractors
Thiess was awarded a three-year mining contract worth $135m for the project. The contractual scope includes mine-planning, overburden removal and operation and maintenance of the plant and equipment.
Wagners Transport was awarded the contract for haulage of iron ore from the iron mine to the Bing Bong loading facility in December 2012.
Commonwealth Bank of Australia acted as financial advisor for obtaining project finance.
CSA Global conducted the mineral resource estimate for Area F at the Roper Bar iron ore project, while SKM conducted the groundwater assessment.
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