Skip to content


Western Australia Iron Ore

Integrated iron ore mines, rail and port operations in the Pilbara region of Western Australia

Explore our global locations

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

My first day on a FIFO mine site

Everyone starts their FIFO mining journey on day one. Hear stories from our South Flank team about what they felt on their first day.

Key developments during FY19

Construction of the US$3.6 billion (100 per cent basis) South Flank project started in July 2018 and by the end of FY2019 was more than 30 per cent complete.

South Flank remains on track to deliver first ore in CY2021 and is expected to produce 80 million tonnes per annum (Mtpa), replacing volumes from Yandi as Yandi reaches its end of economic life in the early-to-mid 2020s. 

WAIO production was broadly unchanged in FY2019 compared to FY2018. This was a positive result given the production impacts, including a train derailment in November 2018 and Tropical Cyclone Veronica in March 2019. 

Jimblebar had record production of 58.5 million tonnes (Mt) in FY2019, compared to 55.8 Mt in FY2018.

A range of cost and improvement initiatives contributed to productivity, including changes to maintenance planning, materials handling and truck fleet utilisation.

Looking ahead

South Flank is expected to reach its peak construction workforce of around 3,000 people as the project moves into the second full year of construction.

Within WAIO, our focus will remain on supply chain stability, quality improvement and operating discipline. 

In addition to equipment productivity, prioritisation of resource recovery optimisation and stable supply of high-quality product to market will continue. There will also be a focus on embedding our transformation programs into the WAIO business. For example, the BHP Operating System is currently being deployed at Port, in the Perth Repair Centre and at Jimblebar and will soon be deployed at Mining Area C, Nickel West’s Mt Keith operations and our Integrated Remote Operations Centre during FY2020.

Loading the player...