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BHP’s northwest dream has come true

DESCRIBED as a “dream come true” BHP’s newly commissioned $2.45 billion hot briquetted iron processing plant has set an historic precedent.

For the Western Australian economy it will mean an annual $300 million shot in the arm when the plant is in full production at Boodarie near Port Hedland.

Opening the new facility, Premier Richard Court said it positioned WA as a major supplier of value-added iron ore product to the world’s steel industry.

“This is one of the most important downstream mineral processing projects in the State’s history,” Mr Court said. “While WA has long been an important player in the world industry, it is through downstream processing that the true potential will be achieved.”

At full capacity, the new processing plant will produce 2.5 million tonnes of iron briquettes for export markets annually. It is the only large-scale initiative in the State to process iron ore.

BHP HBI president Paul Jeans said the company has established a sound foundation for the future with advanced technology and a high quality product.

“If we can established a reputation for producing consistent, high-grade feedstock, we can secure a good base in one of the fast growing segments of the international steel business,” he said.

Resource Development Minister Colin Barnett said the potential for further expansion in business servicing the oil and gas industry in the Pilbara region is significant.

“WA has the resources – a skilled work force, quality minerals, access to competitive energy and proximity to the major trading partner of Asia – and we have some $26 billion of projects currently in the planning stage for the Pilbara alone,” Mr Barnett said.

Last year WA exported $143 mt of iron ore worth almost $4 billion and claimed around 34 per cent of the world seaborne trade. The State also supplies more than half of all iron ore exported into China and Japan – 88.4 mt last year.

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