South Flank iron ore mine is located in the central Pilbara region of Western Australia. Image courtesy of BHP.
South Flank is expected to produce 80Mt of iron ore a year. Image courtesy of BHP.
The iron ore from South Flank will be transported to Port Hedland via rail . Image courtesy of BHP.

South Flank iron ore project is located in the central Pilbara region of Western Australia, approximately 100km north-west of Newman.

The project is owned and being developed by BHP Iron Ore Jimblebar, a jointly held company of BHP Billiton (85%), Itochu (8%) and Mitsui (7%).

Scheduled to commence production in 2021, the South Flank project will expand BHP’s Mining Area C operation located 8km to its north and replace production from the 80 million tonnes per annum (Mtpa) Yandi mine, which is nearing the end of its mine life.

The capital investment on the project excluding initial funding is estimated to be $3.4bn. BHP Billiton approved $2.9bn of capital expenditure for the project in June 2018. Construction work for the project started in July 2018.

South Flank is expected to produce 80Mtpa of iron ore over its 25 years of estimated project life, starting from 2021.

South Flank iron ore project geology and ore reserves

The South Flank project comprises Grand Central, Vista Oriental and Highway deposits situated in the south-east corner of Pilbara Craton, and forms part of the Marra Mamba Banded Iron formation (BIF) in the Hamersley basin. 

The inclusion of South Flank project substantially increased the proven reserve estimates of BHP’s Marra Mamba to 360Mt grading 62.4% iron and the probable reserve estimate to 1,320Mt grading 61.5% iron, as of June 2018.

Mining and ore processing at South Flank 

South Flank will be a conventional open-cut mining operation involving drilling, blasting and hauling.

Iron ore will be segregated from waste rock and subject to primary crushing at the mine site.

The crushed iron ore will be transported by an overland conveyor to a new 80Mtpa iron ore handling plant at the Mining Area C hub, for processing.

The new ore handling facility will house crushing, screening, separate stockpiling facilities for iron ore lumps and fines, and train load-out facilities.

Infrastructure for the South Flank project

South Flank iron ore will be transported using BHP-owned railway network connecting the Port Hedland for shipping.

BHP has two shipping facilities, namely Nelson Point and Finucane Island, at the Port Hedland.

South Flank mine site will be accessed by new access and haul roads.

The South Flank mining area as well as the new ore handling facility will be supplied with power from the Yarnima power station at Newman via 33kV overhead lines connected to the 132/33kV Junction Substation located to the east of Mining Area C.

The water for the mining operation will be made available through the dewatering of the ore body aquifers.

Contractors involved with South Flank iron ore project

Fluor was awarded the project and construction management contract for the South Flank Iron ore project in August 2018. Fluor was earlier engaged to conduct the feasibility study of the project.

Clough was awarded the engineering procurement and construction (EPC) contract to develop the non-process infrastructure (NPI) for the South Flank project, in June 2018. The contractual scope includes civil, structural, mechanical, piping, electrical and instrumentation works.

CPB Contractors was awarded a $260m contract in June 2018 for bulk earthworks and concrete works for the expansion of the existing rail loop and stockyard as well as for the development of a new ore processing plant and train load-out facilities, as part of the South Flank project.

SIMPEC was awarded a contract to provide expert engineering services for the ore handling plant area, in July 2018.

SIMPEC was also contracted to conduct constructability and estimate review desktop study for the project earlier in February 2018.