Western Australia Iron Ore (WAIO) is an integrated system of four processing hubs and five mines connected by more than 1,000 kilometres of rail infrastructure and port facilities in the Pilbara region of northern Western Australia.
WAIO’s Pilbara reserve base is relatively concentrated, allowing development to be planned around integrated mining hubs which are connected to the mines and satellite orebodies by conveyors or spur lines. This approach enables the value of installed infrastructure to be maximised by using the same processing plant and rail infrastructure for a number of orebodies.
At each processing hub – Newman, Yandi, Mining Area C and Jimblebar – the ore is crushed, beneficiated (where necessary) and blended to create high-grade hematite lump and fines products. Iron ore products are then transported along the Port Hedland–Newman Rail Line to the Finucane Island and Nelson Point port facilities at Port Hedland.
There are four main WAIO joint ventures (JVs): Mt Newman, Yandi, Mt Goldsworthy and Jimblebar. BHP’s interest in each of the joint ventures is 85 per cent, with Mitsui and ITOCHU owning the remaining 15 per cent. The joint ventures are unincorporated, except Jimblebar.
BHP, Mitsui and ITOCHU have also entered into separate joint venture agreements with some customers that involve the sublease of parts of WAIO’s existing mineral leases at Wheelarra and POSMAC. The Wheelarra JV sublease expired in March 2018 and the Wheelarra JV is now in the process of being wound up. As such, control of the sublease area reverted to the Jimblebar JV in March 2018.
The ore from the Wheelarra and POSMAC JVs is sold to the main joint ventures. BHP is entitled to 85 per cent of this production. All ore is transported by rail on the Mt Newman JV and Mt Goldsworthy JV rail