Hawsons iron project is located in the western part of New South Wales, approximately 60km south-west of Broken Hill, Australia. Discovered in 2009, it is considered to be the world’s biggest undeveloped high-quality iron ore project.

The mine is jointly owned by Carpentaria Resources (68.7%) and Pure Metals (31.3%) and is being developed by a joint venture formed by the two companies, named Hawsons Iron Project Joint Venture (JV).

The pre-feasibility study (PFS) for the project was announced in July 2017, while the bankable feasibility study (BFS) is ongoing.

The project is estimated to have a life of 50 years and will produce ten million tonnes per annum (Mtpa) of Hawsons Supergrades® product. Construction is expected to start in the second quarter of 2019, while production is scheduled to begin in the third quarter of 2020.

Hawsons iron project geology and mineralisation

The Hawsons iron project is hosted within folded, upper greenschist facies of the Neoproterozoic age in the Adelaide fold belt. The magnetite iron ore is hosted within Braemar Facies, which consists of moderately dipping narrow striking siltstones.

The prospect comprises a number of deposits named Core, Fold, T-Limb, South Limb and Wonga.

Hawsons iron project reserves

The probable reserves of Hawsons iron project are estimated to be 755Mt graded at 69.9% Fe. The indicated reserves are estimated to be 840Mt graded at 69.9% Fe, while the inferred reserves are estimated to be 1,660Mt graded at 69.7%.

Mining and ore processing at Hawsons iron project

The Hawsons iron project is planned to be mined using open-pit method involving drilling and blasting followed by trucking and shovelling for the first five year years. In-pit conveying will be used from the fifth year, after reaching significant depths.

A conveyor will be used for vertical lift, while trucks are proposed to be used for horizontal movement.

The mined ore will undergo primary and secondary crushing using impact crushers, following which the crushed ore will be stockpiled. Rougher magnetic separators will be used for primary concentration, followed by further grinding in ball mills.

Cleaner magnetic separators and hydro-separator will be used for thickening and separating the slurry from the concentrate, which will be transported through slurry pipeline to rail head site near Broken Hill.

"The Hawsons iron project is planned to be mined using open-pit method."

Dewatering and handling of the concentrate will be performed at the rail head site and the concentrate will be transported to an export hub at Port Pirie. A PFS is planned to be conducted by a joint venture of Flinders Ports and Hawsons Iron Project JV to examine the possibility of developing the export hub consisting of storage sheds, pipe conveyor and new ship loaders.

Infrastructure at Hawsons iron project

Power will be supplied by a 220kV single circuit transmission line from Buronga to Broken Hill substations, which is connected to the New South Wales transmission system.

Water will be sourced from a deep water saline aquifer situated 90km away from the project site. A reverse osmosis plant will process the water to provide fresh water for processing purposes.

Offtake agreements

Hawsons Iron Project JV has entered various offtake agreements with customers from Asia and Middle East, including Formosa Plastics, Bahrain Steel, Shagang, Gunvor, Kuwait Steel and Emirates Steel.

Mitsui Corporation signed an agreement with Hawsons in August 2018, under which the former will invest $5.4m in the project’s bankable feasibility study (BFS) in exchange for an option for the offtake of 2Mtpa of Hawsons Supergrade® pellet for 20 years.