Fortescue's Queens Valley mining area development is a part of its strategy to optimise margin through an enhanced product mix.


Image: Fortescue’s ore processing facility in Solomon, Pilbara region. Photo: courtesy of Fortescue Metals Group Ltd.

Iron ore producer Fortescue Metal Group has approved the development of the $287m Queens Valley mining area (Queens) at its Solomon Hub located in the Pilbara region of Western Australia (WA).

The Queens Valley mining area development has received environmental and heritage approvals.

Fortescue said that the mine will maintain production of the low-alumina Kings Fines product and the mine development is part of its strategy to optimise margin through an enhanced product mix.

Fortescue CEO Elizabeth Gaines said: “Fortescue’s integrated operations and marketing strategy defines a product portfolio that maximises value from the Fortescue orebodies over the long term, ensuring the continued delivery of returns to shareholders.

“The Queens mining area development will maintain our highly valued Kings Fines low-alumina sinter fines product which supplies Fortescue’s key customers in China as well as in Japan and Korea.”

Queens Valley mine will have operational life of up to 15 years

Located approximately 15km from the Kings ore processing facility (OPF), the Queens Valley area has an expected operational life of between 10 and 15 years.

The mine is expected to have an initial strip ratio of 1.4, maintaining Fortescue’s low operating cost of production, the firm noted.

The Queens development will include construction of an innovative hydraulic barrier wall in accordance with environmental approvals.

To reduce travel distances, lower operating costs and provide access to additional tonnes in the vicinity of the Kings OPF, the firm plans to relocate the Solomon mobile maintenance facilities closer to the Queen’s operation.

The firm said in a statement: “This important mining development continues Fortescue’s commitment to maintaining long mine-life, low operating costs and adopting innovation across the operations.”

Located 60km north of Tom Price and 120km to the west of Fortescue’s Chichester Hub, the Solomon Hub in the Hamersley Ranges comprises the Firetail and Kings Valley mines which have a combined production capacity of 70 million tonnes per annum.

Fortescue said that it has recently commissioned the first Cat 789D model truck fitted with Autonomous Haulage System (AHS) technology at its Cloudbreak iron ore mine located in Pilbara.

The move forms part of the firm’s broader plan to convert its fleet of 175 trucks to autonomy by integrating them with AHS technology, across its mine sites in Pilbara by mid-2020.