BHP has opened its US$3.6 billion South Flank iron ore mine, Australia’s largest new iron ore mine in over 50 years. When fully operational it will produce 80 million tonnes of premium iron ore per annum, and together with the existing Mining Area C will form the largest operating iron ore hub in the world, producing 145 million tonnes of iron ore each year.
The Pilbara mine is BHP’s most technically advanced iron ore mine, with the integration of the latest advances in autonomous-ready fleets, digital connectivity and modular design.
BHP announced in May 2021 that the mine had successfully produced its first ore.
The ore from South Flank will supply global steel markets for the next 25 years, helping to build electricity, transport and urban infrastructure around the world. The product has high lump content and increases the quality of BHP’s blended products for steelmaking customers, improving blast furnace efficiency and supporting decarbonisation efforts.
South Flank’s high quality ore will increase the average iron ore grade of the iron ore hub from 61 to 62 per cent, and the overall proportion of lump from 25 to 30-33 per cent.
More than $4.6 billion of works have been awarded for the South Flank project with 41 per cent awarded to Western Australian businesses, including 37 per cent committed to businesses in the Pilbara region.
The project included an 80 million tonnes per annum crushing and screening plant, an overland conveyor system, stockyard and train loading facilities, procurement of a new mining fleet and substantial mine development and pre-strip work.
The project created more than 9,000 jobs during construction, and is expected to create more than 600 operational roles through its life.
South Flank’s workforce is diverse and highly skilled, with 40 per cent female and 15 per cent indigenous operational staff.
Premier Mark McGowan said from the turning of the sod with BHP and the Banjima traditional owners in 2018, the project has created, and will continue to create, hundreds of jobs for Western Australians, and work for local businesses.
“The South Flank project shows what is possible when Western Australian businesses, big and small, are given the opportunity to provide goods and services to large scale resources projects in the Pilbara.”