|The new Jimblebar iron ore mine will ramp up to 35 million mt/y and boost BHP Billiton’s total mine capacity to more than 220 million mt/y of ore. BHP says the mine is readily expandable to reach 55 million mt/y.|
BHP Billiton celebrated the official opening of its new Jimblebar iron ore mine 40 km east of Newman in the Pilbara region of Western Australia on April 23. The premier of Western Australia, Colin Barnett, and representatives of joint-venture participants Itochu and Mitsui & Co. joined BHP Billiton President of Iron Ore Jimmy Wilson to open the $3.76 billion mine. Itochu and Mitsui collectively hold a 15% interest in BHP’s “Western Australia Iron Ore” unit, including Jimblebar.
Jimblebar delivered its first production in the third quarter of 2013 and is expected to reach its phase-one capacity of 35 million mt/y by the end of June 2015. Together with the installation of four mobile crushers, this will increase Western Australia Iron Ore’s total capacity to more than 220 million mt/y.
Longer term, a low-cost option to expand Jimblebar to 55 million mt/y and broader debottlenecking of the supply chain is expected to underpin growth in Western Australia Iron Ore’s capacity to about 265 million mt/y.
Wilson said productivity measures and new technology were central to the Jimblebar design plan. “Mobile crib rooms and fueling stations have been positioned closer to the mine pits, so our trucks and equipment spend more time moving earth and less time traveling or parked out of action,” he said.
“Our pursuit of productivity gains and operational excellence is delivering significant value at Western Australia Iron Ore. The business is now well-positioned to deliver high-margin volume growth at a substantially lower cost.
“We are also pleased to announce we are extending our Jimblebar autonomous truck trial to the neighboring Wheelarra operations, using six Caterpillar 793-F trucks in the second trial.” The autonomous trucks at Wheelarra will enable dumping of ore into the newly tied-in Wheelarra crusher.
The trial of autonomous trucks at Jimblebar began in August 2013. From mid-2014, the trial will be expanded to include a second Jimblebar circuit.
The goal of the autonomous truck trials is to define and test the roles, processes, and technology required to safely operate the trucks in a production environment and to understand the production benefits and safety implications of using the trucks.