BC Iron and Fortescue Metals Group (FMG) will start development of the Nullagine iron ore project in Australia’s East Pilbara region after successful results from its final test pit sampling.

The trial mining programme results confirmed the feasibility study’s findings and provide a strong platform to move towards development starting in 2010, BC Iron said.

The ore mined, crushed and screened at the project site generated more tonnage and iron grade than anticipated in the ore reserve model.

The final results represent a positive reconciliation of 13% over the pre-trial mining estimate.

BC Iron, manager of the Nullagine Joint Venture, will concentrate on project development work, which involves obtaining the final regulatory and Aboriginal approvals that will precede mining, awarding of construction and mining contracts in addition to the construction of the haul road, village and mine centre.

FMG has backed the decision to go forward to obtain final approvals and begin construction work at Nullagine and will provide its equity share to the project.