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Aurizon has agreed to transport up to 500,000 tonnes of direct-shipment ore (DSO) per year for Macarthur Minerals, between Kalgoorlie and Kwinana in Western Australia.

The rail haulage agreement will allow Macarthur to accelerate plans at its 54.5 million tonne Ularring hematite resource, with matching port access the next goal for the developing miner.

Macarthur chief executive officer Andrew Bruton detailed the significance of the deal.

“This agreement has the potential to increase Macarthur’s overall access to rail haulage capacity and enhances the foundations for the company’s ambitions to commence iron ore exports as soon as possible,” Bruton said.

“It is another pleasing step towards realising our objective to transition to revenue-generating activities and Macarthur is delighted to be partnering with Aurizon.”

The agreement has increased Macarthur’s access to rail haulage to almost one million tonnes over the next 12 months, plus up to 2.1 million tonnes over the next four years.

Aurizon is a leading rail freight operator in Australia and transports more than 250 million tonnes across the country each year.

Bruton said the agreement had materially altered the prospects of Macarthur’s Ularring iron ore asset.

“With continued diligence, resolve and respectful engagement with key stakeholders, we remain very optimistic that it is now not a matter of if, but when, the company will finally conclude the balance of necessary arrangements that will enable it to commence moving and exporting iron ore products,” Bruton said.

The agreement also complements Macarthur’s similar agreement with Pacific National for the rail haulage of 400,000 tonnes per year.

The additional tonnage will be sourced from GWR Group’s Wiluna West iron ore project under a mine-gate sale agreement.