The Karara Mining iron ore joint venture in the Mid West is considering its expansion options ahead of the construction of the Oakajee port, including a conveyor system to transport concentrate around the outskirts of Geraldton.
Karara Mining, a venture between Gindalbie Metals and China’s Ansteel, could construct a 40km overland conveyor system to move concentrate from its iron ore project to the proposed port.
The plan, albeit at a very early stage in development, has been slated as a possible option for the company as it awaits further progress on the Oakajee Port and Rail development, now owned by Mitsubishi Corp.
Karara has proposed that the conveyor system cover the final stretch of land between the Narngulu industrial centre, near Geraldton airport, and the port within a 250-metre corridor.
The option would be potentially cheaper for the company to construct than a previous idea to build a rail system to move the joint venture’s magnetite product.
In September last year, Karara applied to the Department of Mines and Petroleum for a miscellaneous licence over a 4,323-hectare area that forms the corridor between the proposed port and Narngulu.
Karara’s plans for the corridor have been viewed as controversial by landowners in the Mid West because of the manner in which the joint venture has advised the local community of its possible intentions.
Joint venture spokesman Michael Weir said the overland conveyor system was one of several options that Karara was considering.
“We’re looking at these options as part of the potential to expand Karara once Oakajee is developed,” Mr Weir told WA Business News.
“The conveyor option is at a very early stage and nothing has been formalised.”
Mr Weir said Karara had mapped out land between Narngulu and the proposed port under the necessary state acts and agreements for the mining industry.
“We have made tenement applications and are now embarking on a process of consultation with landowners,” Mr Weir said.
The Karara joint venture is not as reliant on the progress of the Oakajee development compared with some peers in the region because of the access it has secured to the Geraldton port.
Karara will have capacity for up to 16 million tonnes a year of exports from Geraldton, where it is investing $200 million on upgrading the facility to accommodate stages one and two of its mine project.
Beyond stage two, Karara would require the Oakajee port for its ultimate expansion plan to produce more than 30mta from the joint venture project. The joint venture mined its first magnetite ore from Karara during the first half of the 2012 financial year and continues to produce from its smaller-scale hematite direct shipping ore deposits.