The West Pilbara Iron Ore Project ("WPIOP") is one of the largest independently owned undeveloped direct shipping iron ore projects in Australia, held by the Australian Premium Iron Joint Venture Partners ('API JVPs') - Aquila and AMCI(IO) (held by AMCI and POSCO).
Aquila's development initiatives are focused on the Red Hill Iron Joint Venture ('RHIOJV') held Channel Iron Deposits ('CID'), located 30 km to 85 km south of Pannawonica; and on the Hardey Bedded Iron Deposit ('BID'), located ~50 km north west of Paraburdoo.
In September 2021, Mineral Resources (MRL) acquired a 40% state in the RHIOJV from Red Hill Iron Limited. The RHIOJV holds 820Mt CID iron ore resources.
In August 2022, RHIO JVPs made an unconditional final investment decision to develop the RHIOJV iron ore assets as part of MRL's Ashburton hub development. Stage 1 will target 35 million tonnes per year.
MRL has been appointed Manager of the RHIOJV and has commenced long-lead items procurement and early works to support a development timeline targeting FOOS in 2023.
MRL will earn an additional 17% participating interest in the RHIOJV in exchange for funding RHIOJV capital expenditure of $1.3 billion by way of a carried expenditure loan until commercial production.
In December 2021, the API JVPs signed an agreement with Hancock Prospecting on the Hardey Iron Ore Project. Hardey has >150Mt of BID Iron Ore Resource, which is expected to yield around 95Mt of product.
Hancock will first undertake a bankable feasibility study, targeting production up to 10 million tonnes per year. Subject to final investment approval by Hancock and the API JVPs, Hancock will develop and operate the Project. Iron ore is to be exported over the Roy Hill railway and port infrastructure, with first shipment planned for 2023.
While Aquila's current focus is on developing the RHIOJV and Hardey Iron Ore Projects, the WPIOP also boasts significant further growth potential. With a total JORC Resources of 2,837Mt across the extensive WPIOP tenement portfolio in the Pilbara, the API JVPs are well positioned to develop further Projects in the future. There is also significant potential for further growth in iron ore resources on API's extensive tenure footprint.