The Wiluna West iron ore project is a direct-shipping  iron ore (DSO) project being developed by the Golden West Resources (GWR) Group in the southwest region of Wiluna in Western Australia.

Western Australia’s Department of Mines Energy and Safety (DMIRS) approved the stage one development of the C4 deposit at the Wiluna West iron ore project in August 2020.

A pre-feasibility study (PFS) for the project was completed in September 2008, while a definitive feasibility study (DFS) was carried out in the mid-2013.

While the construction works were commenced in October 2020, the mine produced its first ore from the C4 deposit in December 2020.

The Wiluna West project is expected to produce up to 10 million tonnes per annum (Mtpa) of iron ore from the Bowerbird, C3 and C4 iron ore deposits over an estimated mine life of 15 years.

Project location and geology

The Wiluna West iron ore project is located approximately 700km northeast of Perth and 40km southwest of Wiluna, in the north-eastern Goldfields of Western Australia.

The project is situated within the M53/1087 tenement comprising a total area of approximately 6,343ha. It extends approximately 45km over the Joyners Greenstone Belt, near the northern margin of the Yilgarn Craton.

The iron mineralisation occurs within the lower ridges of banded iron formation (BIF), surrounded by inter-embedded mafic and ultramafic schist units. The BIF ridges contain high-grade hematite mainly in three units, namely A, B and C, of which the ridge A holds a very limited mineralisation potential.

Wiluna West iron ore deposits and reserves 

The Wiluna West iron ore reserves are classified into eight deposits over the B and C ridges of the BIF. While the ridge B comprises the Bowerbird and Joyners Find deposits, the ridge C comprises of the remaining six deposits namely, C1, C2, C3, C4, C5 and CR.

The Wiluna West project is estimated to hold approximately 131.1 million tonnes (Mt) of iron ore reserves grading 60% Fe. The measured resources are estimated to be 10.1Mt grading 62.5% Fe, while the indicated and inferred resources are estimated to be 72.0Mt and 48.8Mt, grading 59.9% and 59.4% Fe respectively.

Wiluna West C4 deposit development plan

The C4 iron deposit of Wiluna West project is estimated to hold 21.6Mt DSO hematite reserves grading 60.7% Fe. It also holds 18.5Mt of indicated and 3.1Mt of inferred resources grading 61.2% and 58.0% Fe respectively.

The DSO hematite mineralisation at the C4 deposit extends approximately 1.4km-long and 120m-wide. In stage one, approximately one million tonne (Mt) of iron ore will be produced from the C4 deposit, while the remaining 20Mt of reserves will be mined and processed in stage two.

Mining and ore processing

The open-pit mining method will be employed to extract ore and the run-of-the-mine (ROM) ore will undergo two-stage crushing and screening to produce the coarse ore and fines which will be stockpiled at the site.

The ore processing facility will house electric-powered modular crushers, screens, and portable conveyors. The size of the coarse ore product will range between 31.5mm and 6.3mm.

The stacker conveyor will have 600mm-wide belt equipped with dust suppression sprays.

The iron ore product from the site will be trucked to the Port of Geraldton for onward shipment via cargo ships.

Iron ore off-take

Pacific Minerals signed an off take agreement with GWR Group for one million tonnes of iron ore from the C4 deposit in December 2020.

Contractors involved 

Pilbara Resource Group was contracted for the mining operation of the stage one C4 iron ore deposit of Wiluna West project in November 2020.

QEM Group Australia was sub-contracted by Pilbara Resource Group for the transport of iron ore from the C4 mine site in December 2020.

Al Maynard and Associates prepared the pre-feasibility study report, while Keith Lindbeck and Associates was engaged as the environmental management consultant for the of the Wiluna West iron ore project.