FMG sets aside 2009 ramp up plans

23/12/2008 - 15:37

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Fortescue Metals Group expects to hold a steady production rate of 55 million tonnes per annum over the course of 2009, setting aside earlier plans to hit that rate by the end of the March next year.

FMG sets aside 2009 ramp up plans

Fortescue Metals Group expects to hold a steady production rate of 55 million tonnes per annum over the course of 2009, setting aside earlier plans to hit that rate at the end of the March next year.

In a statement today, the miner said the full ramp up from 45mtpa to 55mtpa is "expected to be progressively built up over 2009 to reach a steady state operation".

The company had previously flagged the end of the first quarter in 2009 to reach the 55mtpa mark, before stepping up to an intermediate rate of 80mtpa and then to 150mtpa.

The news comes as FMG successfully commissioned the second ship loading berth at its Herb Elliot Port at Port Hedland to increase capacity to 55mtpa.

The 165,000 tonne vessel docked at the new berth on Sunday and departed the port earlier today after being loaded.

"The ability to operate one ship loader that can traverse two loading decks provides Fortescue with a more streamlined and flexible loading system," FMG executive director operations Graeme Rowley said.

"The new process will reduce the ship changeover times by more than three hours which is important to accommodate the tidal constraints of Port Hedland harbour."

Additionally, the company has completed the construction and started the wet commissioning of is de-sand plant at the Cloudbreak mine site.

The plant will be used the wash the ultra fines of iron ore mined at Cloudbreak.

The product contains low alumina levels which remain in good demand in China, FMG said.

Shares in FMG closed up 9.5 cents or 5.5 per cent to $1.81 today.

Yesterday the miner's share price slumped as much as 21 per cent as fears grow about its funding and legal disputes over shipping contracts.

 

The announcement is pasted below:

 

 

Fortescue Metals Group ("Fortescue" ASX: 'FMG') has successfully commissioned the second ship loading berth at its Herb Elliott Port at Port Hedland to increase the capacity of Fortescue's infrastructure to 55 million tonnes per annum "Mta".

The 165,000 tonne vessel, the "Lowlands Beilun", docked at the new berth on Sunday and has since been loaded and departed the port earlier today.

"The ability to operate one ship loader that can traverse two loading decks provides Fortescue with a more streamlined and flexible loading system," said Fortescue Executive Director - Operations Graeme Rowley.

"The new process will reduce the ship changeover times by more than three hours which is important to accommodate the tidal constraints of Port Hedland harbour."

The new head of mine, port and rail operations, Mr Paul Hallam, is now leading the fine tuning of the operational organisation and systems to match the installed infrastructure rate of 55 Mta. The full operation to 55Mta is expected to be progressively built up over 2009 to reach a steady state operation.

"As part of the optimisation project, Fortescue is also pleased to announce the completion of construction and commencement of the wet commissioning of its desand plant at the Cloudbreak mine site and is progressing in line with the planned schedule", Mr Rowley said.

The de-sand plant will be used to wash the ultra fines mined from certain sections of the Cloudbreak deposit and will ensure the consistent delivery of a low alumina product which remains in good demand in China.

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