The Solomon Hub open-cut iron ore mine is located around 60km north of Tom Price in Western Australia. The mine is fully owned by Australian miner Fortescue Metals Group.
Fortescue Metals officially commenced operations at the Firetail deposit of the mine in May 2013. The mine’s current production capacity is 72 million tonnes per annum (Mtpa). The expected mine life of Solomon Hub is 20 years.
Solomon Hub mine geology, mineralisation and development
Solomon Hub is located within the Hamersley Ranges of the Pilbara Craton. The rock types contain Banded Iron Formation (BIF), shales, dolerite, carbonate, chert and rhyolite.
Development of Solomon Hub mine is divided into two stages. The first stage involves the development of Firetail deposit and Kings deposit. It also includes the development of a 120km rail spur from Port Hedland mainline to Solomon mine.
The Firetail deposit comprises of two discrete mining areas, namely Firetail North and Firetail South. The main areas of mining are the Brockman and Detrital iron deposits.
The Kings mining area comprises four separate regions (Zion, Valley of the Kings, Trinity and the Valley of the Queens), which extend approximately 35km and includes Channel iron deposits.
Stage two of Solomon Hub’s development is expected to have a production capacity of 100Mtpa.
Solomon Hub iron ore mine reserves, resources and processing
The Firetail and Kings deposits of Solomon Hub iron mine have combined reserves of approximately 716Mt. The measured and indicated iron ore resources have been estimated at 3.24 billion tonnes.
The iron ore resources under stage two are estimated to be 1.1 billion tonnes.
The mining plan of Solomon Hub includes conventional open-pit load / haul mining methods.
The ore processing facility (OPF) at Firetail will process bedded iron ore for the first two years of mining. The deposits will be dry-processed for the direct shipping of ore.
The ore is crushed in the primary crushing hub and transported back to the OPFs for grinding and separation. The wet scrubber removes the waste from the ore and categorises it into oversize, midsize and undersize materials.
The coarse oversize / midsize ore is transported to rail stockyard and the undersize material is further sized and processed before transporting to the rail stockyard for exportation.
Infrastructure at Western Australia’s Solomon Hub mine
The power supply for the Solomon Hub mine is provided by the 85MW dual-fuel power station that runs on both diesel and gas.
The tailings storage facility extends across an area of 88ha. The facility is made up of the tailings storage area, embankment wall and a recovery pump.
Infrastructure facilities also include a 127km rail line from the Hedland Port to the Firetail mining area. Another rail line from the main Solomon rail to the Valley of the Kings was also undertaken.
Workers are accommodated at the 1,500-person village. Other infrastructure includes a material handling system, an airport, and a water and waste management facility.
Contractors involved with Fortescue Metals Group’s mine
The mining and operations contract for the Solomon Hub mine was awarded to Leighton Contractors.
Under the contract, Leighton was responsible for the mining fleet operation and maintenance, in addition to ore quality control. It also provided facilities for ore processing and infrastructure associated with it.
URS Australia conducted the assessment study of the landforms and geology of the Solomon Hub mine.
Pindan was awarded the contract for the construction of the accommodation camp at the Solomon Hub mine.
Caterpillar signed an agreement with Fortescue to supply 45 793F autonomous haul trucks for the Solomon Hub mine in July 2012. The agreement also included the provision of a full Cat MineStar System Technology suite for the mine. Caterpillar delivered eight driverless trucks in October 2013.
JSW Australia, a subsidiary of Hughes Drilling, and its joint venture partner Eastern Guruma (EG) secured a mine grade control drilling contract for the Solomon Hub mine in May 2014.
Fortescue Metals Group placed a contract extension worth approximately $650m with Thiess to continue its services at the Solomon Hub mine until 2020.
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