The BHP Board has approved US$2.9 billion (BHP share; US$3.4 billion 100 per cent)1 in capital expenditure for the South Flank project in the central Pilbara, Western Australia.
BHP President Operations, Minerals Australia, Mike Henry, said the South Flank project will fully replace production from the 80 Mtpa (100 per cent basis) Yandi mine which is reaching the end of its economic life.
“South Flank is a capital efficient project which offers attractive returns, and which was approved following a thorough evaluation under BHP’s Capital Allocation Framework,” Mr Henry said. “The project will create around 2,500 construction jobs, more than 600 ongoing operational roles and generate many opportunities for Western Australian suppliers. It will enhance the average quality of BHP’s Western Australia Iron Ore (WAIO) production and will allow us to benefit from price premiums for higher-quality lump and fines products.”
The South Flank project expands the existing infrastructure at Mining Area C, and involves construction of an 80 Mtpa crushing and screening plant, an overland conveyor system, stockyard and train loading facilities, procurement of new mining fleet and substantial mine development and pre-strip work.
First ore from South Flank is targeted in the 2021 calendar year, with the project expected to produce ore for more than 25 years.
South Flank iron ore will contribute to an increase in WAIO’s average iron grade from 61 per cent to 62 per cent, and the overall proportion of lump from 25 per cent to approximately 35 per cent. It is expected to have a strip ratio in line with the WAIO average.
In June 2017, BHP approved an initial funding commitment of US$184 million (BHP share), primarily for the expansion of accommodation facilities to support current and future workforce requirements.
The South Flank project will be the major contributor to a material increase in WAIO Total Marra Mamba Ore Reserves, as outlined in Appendix 1.
1 BHP has an 85 per cent interest in Mining Area C and the South Flank project, with ITOCHU Minerals and Energy of Australia Pty Ltd and Mitsui Iron Ore Corporation Pty Ltd collectively owning the remaining 15 per cent interest. Overall capital intensity of US$45 per tonne of annual capacity includes initial funding of US$216 million (US$184 million BHP share) announced on 26 June 2017. Overall South Flank project expenditure fits within Western Australia Iron Ore’s previously indicated average annual sustaining capital expenditure of approximately US$4 per tonne over the next five years, with actual sustaining capital expenditure highly variable in any given year during the development of South Flank.