Fortescue Metals Group Ltd. (FMG) reported that it made its first magnetite product, at a first-run grade of greater than 68% iron (Fe). Wet concentrate at the Iron Bridge site has now been transported through the 135-km slurry pipeline to where dewatering and materials handling occurs at Port Hedland.

It marks the end of more than 20 million work hours on site and almost 20 years of planning. The time and capital ($500 million) in piloting the highly innovative Iron Bridge process was validated by the ore processing facility achieving specification metal production in its first week of operations.

Iron Bridge will produce 22 million metric tons per year (mt/y) of high grade magnetite concentrate.

“Iron Bridge is a firm demonstration of our company’s values, particularly NEGU – Never Ever Give Up determination,” Fortescue Executive Chairman, Dr. Andrew Forrest AO said. “Iron Bridge temporarily followed the traditional way of delivering projects before recovering and switching back to our values of empowerment driven leadership. What a great job the team have now done.” Forrest congratulated the 20,000 people who worked on the project, achieving an enviable safety record during the construction.

“Iron Bridge will lead the way for a successful magnetite industry in Western Australia and is a game changer for not only Fortescue, but the wider iron ore industry,” Forrest said.

“Iron Bridge is a significant differentiator for Fortescue,” Fortescue Metals CEO, Fiona Hick, said. “It demonstrates our commitment to long term planning and the sustainability of our iron ore business, while also investing in growth. We are committed through the cycle to delivering robust returns to our shareholders and building an increasingly strong balance sheet.”

Iron Bridge signifies Fortescue’s entry into the highest-grade segment of the iron ore market, providing an enhanced product range while also increasing annual production and shipping capacity.