RAIL freight company Aurizon signed a deal to transport some 1.2 million tonnes per year of magnetite for miner Northern Iron.

The deal will see Aurizon move the mineral from Northern Iron’s Tennant Creek mine to Darwin Port for export starting in March next year.

The privately held company Northern Iron operates the Warrego Rehabilitation Project, located 50 kilometres north-east of Tennant Creek.

Aurizon general manager bulk central Matt Jones said this was the first major contract Aurizon had won in the Northern Territory since acquiring the rail and infrastructure business in 2022.

“[The contract] builds on a number of contract renewals by Aurizon over the past year to support the growth of our existing customers along the Adelaide to Darwin corridor,” Mr Jones said.

“We look forward to supporting Northern Iron’s growth in coming years, as part of the broader expansion of the region’s resource base and in contributing to the NT government’s goal of building a $40 billion economy by 2030.”

Mr Jones said Aurizon’s major investment in central Australia recognises the strategic value and potential of the business in serving rapidly growing markets for resources, agribusiness, renewable energy and general freight.

“Aurizon sees the 2240-kilometre Tarcoola to Darwin railway as a nationally significant corridor with direct connection to the Port of Darwin, the closest port to Australia’s largest trading partners in Asia,” he said.

“We are also investing in new equipment and facilities on our lease at the Port of Darwin, including two mobile harbour cranes. Aurizon is establishing a stevedoring operation at the port to provide customers with an integrated supply chain solution direct to ship.”

Northern Iron managing director Rob Morrow said the contract was a major milestone.

“We acknowledge Aurizon as a key enabling partner for the Warrego Rehabilitation Project as part of Northern Iron’s strategy to retain investment in the territory and support companies that are contributing to the growth of the region,” Mr Morrow said.

“This strategic partnership will provide the critical logistic capabilities needed to get our magnetite product to market where steel producers create a higher quality steal product using less ore and producing less emissions and waste by-products.”