JUST days after celebrating the arrival and commissioning of its initial 20,000 DWT transhippers Mineral Resources has begun loading its first ship with Onslow Iron ore, weeks ahead of schedule.

MinRes Coolibah and MinRes Airlie are currently loading 113,000 tonnes of ore aboard COSCO Shipping’s Lan Hua Hai (115,118 DWT) anchored 40km off the Port of Ashburton, for despatch to China Baowu Steel Group, the world’s largest steelmaker and a project joint venture partner.

The milestone was achieved just 11 months after ground was broken at the Ken’s Bore mine site, located 150km east of Onslow, for what is MinRes’ flagship $3 billion project, leading the company’s transition to low-cost, long-life iron ore operations.

MinRes designed, built and is managing the innovative mining and transport infrastructure unlocking stranded iron ore deposits in the West Pilbara that would otherwise remain undeveloped.

MinRes MD Chris Ellison said the historic moment cemented the company’s position as Australia’s leading commodity infrastructure business.

“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,” Mr Ellison said.

“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.

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 3,000 people who worked on Onslow Iron,” he said.

“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.”

MinRes was congratulated by Baosteel Resources Australia MD Yong Zhang, AMCI Group MD Patrick Murphy and POSCO Western Australia MD Kihoon Pyo.

Onslow Iron will ship 35 million tonnes a year, with an expected mine life of more than 30 years.