The Wiluna West JWD direct shipping ore (DSO) project is an open-pit mining operation in Western Australia. Credit: Fe Limited.
The Wiluna West JWD mine is being developed in multiple phases. Credit: Fe Limited.
The processed ore will be transported to Geraldton Port for export to overseas customers. Credit: Fe Limited.

The Wiluna West JWD iron ore project is a direct shipping ore (DSO) project being developed in Western Australia (WA) by exploration and production companies Fe (FEL) and Golden West Resources (GWR) Group.

The project is a part of the wider Wiluna West iron ore development project owned by GWR Group. It focuses on the development of the John William Doutch (JWD) high-grade deposit.

The mining approval for the JWD deposit was granted by WA’s Department of Mines and Petroleum in April 2012. FEL acquired a 51% interest in the JWD project through a joint venture (JV) agreement with GWR in September 2020.

FEL is also the operator of the mine. GWR held a 49% interest in the deposit until an option was exercised by FEL to increase its interest to 60% in July 2021.

The works approval for the project was awarded by the Department of Water and Environmental Regulation (DWER) in March 2021, enabling the commencement of iron ore production. The first ore shipment is expected to occur at the end of September 2021.

Wiluna West JWD project location, geology and mineralisation

The Wiluna West JWD iron ore project is located in the Goldfields region, approximately 40km west of Wiluna and 700km from Geraldton Port. With a strike length of 45km, it is situated within the Joyner’s Find Greenstone Belt near the northern margin of the Yilgarn Craton in WA.

The narrow, north-south striking belt features ridges of banded iron formations (BIF) intercalated with sequences of mafic and ultramafic schists.

Mineralisation at the Wiluna West project occurs within three main BIF ridges as high-grade hematite deposits with grades up to 69% iron (Fe).

Wiluna West JWD project reserves

The measured, inferred, and indicated resources at the JWD deposit are estimated at approximately 10.7 million tonnes (Mt), grading 63.7% iron (Fe), at a cut-off of 55% Fe.

Mining and ore processing at Wiluna West JWD

The Wiluna West Project is an open-pit mine that uses conventional drill and blast, and load and haul method. The mining is being implemented in three stages, with the first stage involving the extraction of up to 300,000t of ore.

The second stage will involve the mining of additional 2.7Mt of ore while the remaining resources within the JWD deposit will be mined in the third stage. The project aims to mine 3Mt of iron ore over the three stages.

The run-of-mine (ROM) ore is hauled to the ROM stockpile from where it is fed to the primary crusher via a front-end loader.

A mobile crushing and screening plant is located near the mine site to provide primary, secondary, and tertiary crushing and screening to produce lump and fine products. The processing plant has an average throughput of 400 tonnes per hour (tph).

The ore is processed through a three-stage crushing and two-stage screening before being transferred onto the product stockyard via two radial stackers. The oversize ore is stored in an oversize ore stockpile for periodic processing using a rock breaker before being sent to the crushing and screening plant.

Off-take agreement between Wiluna FE and Glencore

FEL’s subsidiary Wiluna FE signed an agreement with global trading company Glencore International for the 100% off-take of iron ore from the JWD project.

Glencore booked the bulk carrier MV Bison for the first shipment of lump material from the project in September 2021. The cargo will be shipped to an undisclosed steel mill in South-East Asia.

Contractors involved in the Wiluna West JWD iron ore project

The mining contract was awarded to Big Yellow, an Australia-based mining services company.

FEL signed a camp accommodation sharing contract with Salt Lake Potash, an Australian company involved in the export of sulphate of potash (SOP), in April 2021. Salt Lake Potash will provide FEL up to 68 construction rooms at its Lake Way Village camp, which is located 30km away from the JWD project.

A letter of intent (LOI) was signed with Rocktivity to serve as a crushing and screening contractor for the JWD project the same month.

FEL selected transport and freight services provider David Campbell Transport to act as lead haulage contractor for the project.

The company signed an agreement with the Mid West Port Authority (MWPA) for port access to Geraldton Port in July 2021. The agreement allows FEL to perform in-load and out-load of 800,000tpa of ore from Berth 5 of the port.

An agreement was also signed with Geraldton Bulk Handling, a subsidiary of Australian iron ore producer Mount Gibson Iron, to use its iron ore storage facilities at Geraldton Port.