Fortescue Metals Group announced that the first production at its Iron Bridge magnetite project in the Pilbara region of Western Australia as expected will commence by the end of the March 2023 quarter.

The magnetite mine will yield 22 million tonnes per annum of high grade 67% Fe magnetite concentrate, said the Australia-based iron ore company.

Located 145km south of Port Hedland, the Iron Bridge project has seen the start of energisation and commissioning activities in the wet plant during the quarter that ended on 31 December 2022.

The project has also witnessed continued commissioning of dry processing line A equipment.

Besides, the structural steel installation at the concentrate handling facility at Port Hedland was completed by Fortescue Metals during the reported quarter.

The Iron Bridge project is an unincorporated joint venture (JV) between FMG Magnetite (69%) and Formosa Steel IB (31%). FMG Magnetite is a subsidiary of FMG Iron Bridge, which is owned by Fortescue Metals (88%) and Baosteel Resources International (12%).

The first ore from the Iron Bridge magnetite project was fed into the processing plant in late October 2022.

According to Fortescue Metal, the capital estimate of the magnetite project is $3.6bn-$3.8bn. The company’s investment share in the project will be $2.7bn-$2.9bn.

The company said that it shipped 49.4 million tonnes of iron ore in Q2 FY23, which contributed to 96.9 million tonnes of shipment in H1 FY23.

Fortescue Metals Group executive chairman Andrew Forrest said: “We are now nearing the 200 million tonne annualised rate in our iron ore business even before we commission Iron Bridge.

“Our Company has never performed better on the mining, exploration, green hydrogen and green energy development front, while leading the world as the first heavy industry company to achieve real zero with a fully costed plan.

“Fortescue will step beyond fossil fuels this decade, saving shareholders approximately US$1 billion a year and setting the global stage for all environmentally responsible companies to follow.”