Christmas Creek mine
|Production||50 million tonnes/annum|
The mine is fully owned and operated by the Fortescue Metals Group, FMG, and is one of two iron ore mines the company operates in the Pilbara, the other being the Cloud Break mine, located 50 kilometres west of Christmas Creek.
Fortescue acquired the Cloud Break and Christmas Creek tenements during 2003. The company began constructing port facilities at Port Hedland in February 2006, followed by a A$3.2 billion capital raising in August 2006 to finance its projects. Construction on the Cloud Break mine began in October 2006 and Fortescue began mining at Cloud Break in October 2007. Iron ore production at the mine began in 2008 and, in its first full year of operation, the mine produced 28 million tonnes of iron ore.
Processing and transport
The ore from the mine is processed on site. Initially, it was loaded onto trucks and transported to Cloud Break and then on to the coast at Port Hedland through the Fortescue railway, where it is loaded onto ships. Construction on a 280-kilometre-long railway from Cloud Break to the Herb Elliott Port at Point Hedland was begun in November 2006. The line was scheduled to be fully operational within 18 months. A cyclone in March 2007 killed two workers at the project and led to delays. The first train from the mine to the port travelled on 5 April 2008. A 50 km railway linking Christmas Creek to Cloud Break, allowing ore to be taken all the way to the port by rail, opened in December 2010; further improvements to railways are planned.
The Pinnacles in Christmas Creek is a sacred site in the area. There is a long history of struggle for Land Rights in the region.
Originally, FMG planned to increase the production at Cloud Break to 55 million tonnes through a US$220 million upgrade of the plant, but this had to be abandoned in October 2009 because of funding difficulties through its Chinese investors. Instead, Fortescue decided to develop the Christmas Creek deposit, at a cost of US$360 million, by building a mine and process plant there and linking it to its existing rail network. Christmas Creek is scheduled to produce 16 million tonnes of iron ore in its first year of operation. Fortescue plans to reach an annual production of 95 million tonnes of iron ore by 2012, downgraded from an earlier target of 120 million.
The Christmas Creek operation began transporting ore by truck to Cloud Break for processing in June 2009. Construction on the processing facility began in November 2009 and is expected to be completed within 13 month. Commissioning of the new ore processing facility at Christmas Creek is scheduled to begin in February 2011.
On 14 August 2013, an electrician was killed at the Christmas Creek mine when he sustained fatal crush injuries. A second fatality occurred on 29 December 2013 when a contractor was killed in the heavy vehicle workshop at the mine.
In 2015 the Public Environmental Review for the Christmas Creek Iron Ore Mine expansion was made public, and extensive parts of the review relate to issues of mining adjacent to the Fortescue marshes
- MINEDEX website: Christmas Creek search result Archived 11 September 2008 at the Wayback Machine. accessed: 6 November 2010
- Mining Fortescue website, accessed: 9 November 2010
- Western Australian Mineral and Petroleum Statistic Digest 2009 Department of Mines and Petroleum website, accessed: 8 November 2010
- History Fortescue website, accessed: 9 November 2010
- Work begins on Cloud Break mine ABC News, published: 24 October 2006, accessed: 9 November 2010
- Fortescue opens the world's heaviest haul railway Railway Gazette International, published: 14 July 2008, accessed: 6 November 2010
- "Railway Gazette: Heavy haul expansion plan approved". Retrieved 2011-02-13.
- Sucked in The Australian, published: 4 April 2008, accessed: 9 November 2010
- "Fortescue Metals Group's China funding flops" The Australian, published: 13 October 2010, accessed: 9 November 2010
- Fortescue to spend $360m at Christmas Creek mine to up output The Australian, published: 112 October 2009, accessed: 9 November 2010
- Fortescue shares up on FY profit jump The Sydney Morning Herald, published: 26 August 2010, accessed: 9 November 2010
- Ore dip fails to slow Fortescue progress The Age, published: 15 October 2010, accessed: 9 November 2010
- Worker dies at FMG's Christmas Creek iron ore minesite www.news.com.au, published: 15 August 2013, accessed: 16 August 2013
- Fatality at Fortescue's Christmas Creek mine The Australian, published: 30 December 2013, accessed: 31 December 2013