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Early works at Onslow port.

Mineral Resources (MinRes)’ transformational Onslow Iron project (formerly known as the Ashburton project) in Western Australia has commenced early works to support first ore on ship around December 2023.

Onslow Iron will unlock stranded deposits that would otherwise remain undeveloped in the West Pilbara region, using MinRes’ innovative and proprietary equipment designed to process and move bulk commodities at lower costs and with a reduced environmental footprint.

Following receipt of preliminary approvals, project preparations are on track and early construction activities, including bulk earthworks, have begun at the port of Ashburton, south of Onslow. At the nearby truck maintenance facility, installation of the temporary construction village is underway, with first buildings to be installed from early September.

Mine development activities have also progressed at the Ken’s Bore Deposit, east of Onslow, with construction of the A320-capacity airport and the installation of two camps to support drilling and early construction works.

Recruitment for the construction phase of Onslow Iron is also well underway alongside a continued focus on community and stakeholder consultation.

In line with the project schedule, long-lead items have been ordered, including the first transhippers, which will be used to load capesize vessels that will be anchored offshore  Ashburton port. Each transhipper has a 20,000 tonne capacity, is fully enclosed to avoid dust pollution and has a significantly lower environmental footprint when compared to the major dredging activities that would be required to construct deepwater berths.

Onslow Iron will be one of the largest iron ore developments undertaken in WA, delivering substantial benefits to the state including thousands of construction and operational jobs, billions of dollars of direct local investment through capital expenditure and billions of dollars of State and Commonwealth royalties over the life of the project.

MinRes managing director Chris Ellison said the project would be the cornerstone of the company’s  iron ore strategy to deliver low-cost, long-life operations with project economics that are compelling through commodity price cycles.

“Importantly, our innovations will drive lower emissions across the project. Onslow Iron has been designed with a low environmental footprint and will be dust-free from pit-to-port,” he said.

“We’re also setting a new FIFO standard with our industry first, resort-style accommodation to ensure the physical and mental safety of our people and to encourage more women, and couples, to live on site.

“It’s in our DNA to aim higher, push the boundaries and forge new paths, which is why Onslow Iron really represents a new paradigm for mining in WA.”