The project includes construction of 143km of rail, a new 30mtpa dry ore processing facility (OPF) and infrastructure.

Fortescue plans to start production from the mine in December 2020.

Fortescue’s chief executive officer Elizabeth Gaines said “Development of the Eliwana Project will maintain Fortescue’s low cost status, providing us with greater flexibility to capitalise on market dynamics while maintaining a minimum 170 million tonnes per annum production rate over 20 years.

“This Project allows us to commence the supply of Fortescue Premium product to the market from existing operations in the second half of FY19 with volumes increased as Eliwana ramps up to full production.”

The company has already completed a definitive feasibility study report (DFS) for the mine development.

Fortescue said that the Eliwana project will build on the company’s development and construction capability, utilising the latest technology, autonomous trucks and design efficiency.

It will see capital expenditure of $169m, $760m, and $350m in the financial year 2019, 2020, and 2021, respectively.

Gaines said: “Fortescue has now shipped over one billion tonnes of iron ore in just ten years, generating strong returns from our position at the lowest end of the global cost curve.

“This Project is important to Fortescue and the state of Western Australia, creating up to 1,900 jobs during construction, 500 full time site positions once operational and the continued flow of benefits to our communities and the state economy.”

The project is expected to underpin the introduction of a 60% iron grade product (Fortescue Premium) in the second half of the financial year 2019.

Fortescue will finance the project from operating cashflows at a capital intensity of $42 per tonne.