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Mineral Resources’ (MinRes) Onslow Iron project in Western Australia has delivered its first ore on ship ahead of schedule.

The ore will be shipped for delivery to China Baowu Steel Group, the world’s largest steelmaker and a partner of the Red Hill Iron Ore joint venture (RHIOJV), the partnership developing Onslow Iron.

The milestone follows the first two transhippers arriving on site at Onslow Iron last week.

Both transhippers – the MinRes Airlie and MinRes Coolibah – are currently loading about 113,000 wet metric tonnes (wmt) of iron ore aboard a bulk carrier anchored 40km off the Port of Ashburton in WA.

Onslow Iron is expected to have an initial fleet of five transhippers, which will eventually expand to seven as part of the fully integrated mine-to-ship mining and transport infrastructure MinRes has designed, built and is currently managing.

The first five vessels will help Onslow Iron reach an annual capacity of 35 million tonnes per annum by June 2025.

“This historic moment for MinRes cements our position as Australia’s leading commodity infrastructure business,” MinRes managing director Chris Ellison said.

“We have unlocked a whole new iron ore region for Australia while Onslow Iron is a game-changer for MinRes as we transition to low-cost, long-life operations.

“This project was stranded for more than a decade. In 2021, MinRes breathed new life into it and in less than three years we have planned, designed and have now delivered first ore on ship ahead of time and on budget.”

Once the iron ore maiden shipment is delivered to Baowu, MinRes’ effective ownership in RHIOJV will increase to 60.3 per cent. Baowu’s stake will sit at 18.7 per cent, AMCI’s 10.7 per cent and POSCO’s 10.3 per cent.

“It’s an extraordinary display of the unique capability of MinRes’ infrastructure and mining services, as well as the ingenuity of our unmatched in-house engineering and construction workforce,” Ellison said.

“There is no other company that could have delivered an operation of this size in such little time. The achievement is a testament to the professionalism and can-do attitude of the more than 3000 people who worked on Onslow Iron.

“I want to thank everyone who brought our vision to life, including joint venture partners Baowu, AMCI and POSCO, our Traditional Owner partners, the Thalanyji and Robe River Kuruma peoples, and the wider Onslow community.”

Following the first convoy of road trains with autonomous haulage solutions technology arriving at Onslow Iron in late April, MinRes has confirmed that practical completion of Onslow Iron project infrastructure such as the dedicated haul road is expected to be completed by the second half of 2024.

The major miner has also confirmed plans to introduce a partner to own a 49 per cent interest in the Onslow Iron haul road, which is on track to be signed in the second half of the 2024­–25 financial year.