THE first shipment of Fortescue Metals Group’s new 60.1% iron content product West Pilbara Fines, has left Herb Elliott Port in Port Hedland bound for Hunan Valin Steel Co in China.

Fortescue is to produce 5 – 10m tonnes of West Pilbara Fines in the 2019 financial year by blending higher iron, low alumina ore from the western pits at Cloudbreak with ore from the Firetail mine.

Chief executive Elizabeth Gaines said the production of West Pilbara Fines demonstrated the flexibility of wholly owned, integrated mining operations.

“For the last decade, we have delivered a range of differentiated products with a high value in use for our customers,” Ms Gaines said.

“As we look out to FY19 and beyond, West Pilbara Fines will further enhance the range of ores available, as we continue to ensure that our quality control and product consistency are maintained at the highest levels for our customers in China, Asia and Europe.”

Hunan Valin chairman Dr Cao Zhiaqiang said they were pleased to be the first steel mill customer for West Pilbara Fines.

“Fortescue continues to understand and respond to the market’s needs by expanding its product suite, while remaining focussed on delivering high value in use products,” Dr Cao said.

Ms Gaines thanked those at Fortescue who worked hard to deliver the new product on schedule.