Delayed startup for Baosteel-Aurizon iron ore project in Australia

Baosteel’s 30-million-tpy West Pilbara Iron Ore Project (WPIOP) is expected to start production in 2019 or 2020 at the earliest, two years later than scheduled.

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The delay is mostly due to the current weakness in the prices for the steelmaking raw material, Australian transport and logistics company Aurizon, which has a share in the project, said.

The final decision on whether to proceed with the project will be made in late 2016, and will depend on the progress of various assessments and long-term iron ore market fundamentals, according to its statement published on Monday May 11.

Baosteel and Aurizon bought the WPIOP in July 2014 as part of their A$1.4-billion ($1.1-billion) acquisition of Aquila Resources. Baosteel owns 85% of Aquila, while Aurizon holds the remaining 15% stake.

The project is being developed by the Australian Premium Iron Joint Venture (APIJV), a 50/50 joint venture between Aquila and AMCI (IO).

AMCI (IO), in turn, is owned by AMCI (51%) and Posco (49%).

The WPIOP was previously set to begin exporting iron ore in the 2017 financial year, according to a September 2014 statement from Aurizon.

“Aurizon and the mines participants are mindful of the volatility in the iron ore market price since the completion of the takeover of Aquila Resources in 2014,” the company said in the statement.

Metal Bulletin’s 62% Fe Iron Ore Index stood at $63.02 per tonne cfr China on Monday, up 34% since it fell to $47.08 per tonne cfr on April 2. It remains 12% lower than it was at the start of the year, having lost about half its value over the course of 2014.