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Portman reaches growth milestone

Perth-based iron ore miner Portman Limited – which has signed a deal to take 100 per cent ownership of the Koolyanobbing iron ore project – has passed another important milestone in its growth strategy with the official opening of a new $9.5 million storage facility at the Port of Esperance.

The project is part of the Esperance Port Authority’s proposed $45 million expansion, the first stage of a development to upgrade the port to handle increased cargo shipments and iron ore exports, which will include exports from Portman’s Koolyanobbing iron ore project.

The new No.2 ore shed, officially opened by WA Deputy Premier Hendy Cowan and Transport Minister Murray Criddle, is an important component of the new infrastructure required to underpin Portman’s plans to boost its iron ore output from Koolyanobbing to 8 million tonnes per annum.

The new storage facility, which increases Portman’s stockpile capacity at Esperance by 140,000 tonnes, is already in use and an additional 50 locally-built ore wagons will be fully operational by August 2000 on the rail link between Koolyanobbing and Esperance.

Both developments coincide with the recent signing of contracts for the restructuring of the Koolyanobbing iron ore joint venture with China’s Anshan Iron and Steel Complex (Angang). Effective 1st January 2001, Portman will acquire Angang’s 40 per cent interest and take 100 per cent ownership of Koolyanobbing.

Portman managing director Geoff Wedlock said the new storage facility and ore wagons would facilitate an increase in exports from the Koolyanobbing operations to 3 million tones per annum by the end of 2000, underpinning the longer-term growth of the Koolyanobbing operations.

“This is an important landmark in our vision for the Koolyanobbing project, which is to establish it as a substantial and profitable independent exporter of iron ore to Asian markets,” Mr Wedlock said.

He said other components of the expansion plans were progressing well.

“Environmental approvals for the major expansion of the port at Esperance, which is being undertaken by EPA, are well advanced and dredging is expected to commence during the second half of this year,” he said.

Portman’s iron ore growth strategy is based on a major long-term expansion of the mining and processing operations at the Koolyanobbing mining complex, 50 kilometres north of Southern Cross.

Portman is also undertaking a $6 million exploration and development program targeted at evaluating the new leases and expects to identify additional iron ore resources of about 100 million tonnes of mineable ore.

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