Atlas Iron has opened Mt Webber mine, the fifth to be developed by the company in the Pilbara region of Western Australia since 2008.
Located around 230km south-east of Port Hedland, Mt Webber is a 70:30 joint venture project between Atlas Iron and Altura Mining.
The mine is currently producing iron ore at a rate of three million tonnes (Mt) a year and is expected to double that by December. It is estimated to be the cheapest operation of Atlas.
Atlas managing director Ken Brinsden was quoted by ABC as saying: "We’ve been able to take advantage of a slightly quieter period for all of the contractors who are contributing to Pilbara production.
"As a result we’ve got some cost-effective contracts in place but also it’s a very low-cost mine due to the low strip ratio. It’s quite unusual in that regard because we don’t have to move a lot of waste in order to access the ore."
The company plans to mine 15Mt of iron ore a year and create 200 jobs.
Western Australia Mines and Petroleum Minister Bill Marmion said that: "In ten years, Atlas has grown from one man with little more than a dream to a significant iron ore producer that provides jobs for more than 600 people.
"Over the next decade, the Mt Webber mine will make an important contribution to WA’s resources sector. In turn, this sector is fundamentally linked to the success of the state’s economy and the quality of life enjoyed by all West Australians."
Atlas Iron’s ore shipment from Pilbara operations has increased 47% to 10.9Mt during 2013 to 2014.