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The South Flank site. Image: BHP

BHP has delivered first ore at the South Flank iron ore mine in the Pilbara region of Western Australia after $4.65 billion and 9000 jobs made it possible.

The 80 million tonne per annum (Mtpa) mine is the largest iron ore mine Australia has seen in over 50 years and will combine with BHP’s Mining Area C to become the largest iron ore hub in the world – producing a combined 145Mtpa.

BHP’s president for minerals Australia Edgar Basto said the project was delivered on time and budget, allowing for BHP’s Western Australian iron ore (WAIO) mining and processing output to improve as soon as possible.

“South Flank’s high-quality ore will increase WAIO’s average iron ore grade from 61 to 62 per cent, and the overall proportion of lump from 25 to 30-33 per cent,” Basto said.

The project will continue to bring a multitude of benefits to the Australian economy for a number of decades, further strengthening the country’s position as a powerhouse of iron ore mining.

“The project has created more than 9000 direct and indirect jobs during construction and will provide more than 600 operational roles through its life,” Basto said.

“South Flank’s ore will supply global steel markets for the next 25 years, helping to build electricity, transport and urban infrastructure across the globe. And its high-quality ore will have an important role in helping BHP’s customers lower their greenhouse gas emissions.”

Basto made sure to thank the Traditional Owners of the South Flank land, as an exhaustive process of consultation and compromise was essential to allow for the construction of the operation.

“South Flank is on Banjima country, and this milestone would not have been possible without their support and collaboration over many years. We are proud of our long-standing partnership and strong working relationship with the Banjima people, and we thank them for their vital contribution to this success,” Basto said.

With 78 per cent of the $4.6 billion in works awarded to Australian businesses, the project has ensured it gives back to the communities which allowed it to progress.

Both the Western Australian Premier Mark McGowan and the Federal Minister for Resources, Water, and Northern Australia Keith Pitt commented on how significant the operation will be for the state and national economy.

“The South Flank project is an example of my government’s commitment to working with industry to take advantage of the international market and business development trends to create Western Australian jobs,” McGowan said.

“This is a major project that is creating thousands of jobs and again shows why the resources sector is so important to our national economy. Establishing Australia’s biggest iron ore project in half a century is a significant vote of confidence in the industry’s future and its long-term benefits to Australia,” Pitt added.