Atlas Iron has initiated a prefeasibility study (PFS) into the development of a low-cost iron ore mine at its Corunna Downs project 40 km east of its Mount Webber mine in the Pilbara region of Western Australia. Field work is under way to deliver the PFS in December 2015, with the aim of first exports in 2017.

Initial exploration at Corunna Downs defined a mineral resource of 65 million mt grading 57.3% iron. The PFS will focus on a portion of the resource that has potential to deliver incremental production to complement Atlas’ existing Pilbara operations in the short term.

Targeted outcomes of the PFS include converting sufficient mineral resources to ore reserves to support an initial five- to six-year mine life. Processing plant capacity and mining rates are being planned at 4 million mt/y at a strip ratio of less than 1:1. Ore haulage will be via road train for export through Atlas’ existing port allocation at Utah Point in Port Hedland.

The total cost of the PFS, including pegging of mining leases, is estimated at A$2.2 million and will be funded from operating cash flows.