The state government of South Australia has given its approval for the construction of the country’s largest magnetite mine.
Magnetite is one of the main iron ores, a cleaner form of iron that produces lower CO2 emissions when used to produce steel.
The AU$4.5 billion (US$3.3 billion) Central Ayre Iron Project, being developed by the Australian firm Iron Road, has been in planning for almost a decade.
The mine – which will be 6.5 km long and 600 m deep – is expected to export over 20 million tonnes of magnetite each year.
The deposit on the site is estimated to be over 3.7 billion tonnes, giving the project a forecast lifespan of around 25 years.
Once extracted, the ore will be concentrated in a state-of-the-art processing plant, before it is exported, generating anticipated revenues of around US$2.8 billion a year.
To facilitate the export of the material, Iron Road proposes the development of a new 150 km rail link, water and power services running up to 70 km, and a new port near Cape Hardy, on the east coast of the peninsula, set to include a 1400 m-long jetty and wharf.
Iron Road says almost 2,000 construction jobs could be created during the process of preparing the mine and supply chain utilities.
South Australia’s energy minister, Tom Koutsantonis, said there remained “a couple of secondary approvals” to be achieved by Iron Road, but he was confident construction on the project would begin next year.