Australia’s magnetite industry is in its infancy. There are currently two large magnetite operations in Australia; Grange Resources’ Savage River project in Tasmania and the OneSteel Whyalla project in South Australia. They are very important contributors to their local regions: Savage River, for example, has been operating for more than 45 years. Together, however, they contribute less than two percent of Australia’s total iron ore exports (93 million tonnes as at March quarter 2011, ABARES Australian Mineral Statistics, March 2011). There is much to gain from developing the magnetite sector and diversifying Australia’s iron ore sources in meeting growing global demand. For example, Grange Resources is facilitating the significant opportunity for new mines in Tasmania to optimise their operations.
MagNet members Gindalbie Metals and CITIC Pacific Mining are progressing WA magnetite projects by developing the Karara and Sino Iron projects, which both have commenced production recently. Strong investment from China and Japan demonstrates the value placed on Australia’s emerging magnetite sector by two of the world’s largest economies. Sustained demand in other key Asian markets, such as South Korea, and emerging markets, such as India, underpin the expansion of Australia’s magnetite industry.
Jointly, WA magnetite projects illustrated on the map below represent more than $6 billion in potential annual export revenue.