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Australia-China iron ore mine given green light
Updated: 2009-09-09 15:56

CANBERRA: The West Australian (WA) government gave its final approval to the first Australia-China multi-billion dollar iron ore project in the state's mid-west on Wednesday.

The Gindalbie-AnSteel iron ore project at Karara, east of Geraldton is a joint venture with AnSteel, China's second-largest steel maker and is subject to formal approval by the Federal Environment Minister Peter Garrett.

AnSteel was given federal government approval earlier this year to take a substantial stake in Perth-based Gindalbie Metals Limited, increasing its stake from 12.6 percent to 36.28 percent.

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If the joint venture's Karara operation receives final approval, it will become the first major iron ore development in the state's mid-west and build pressure for a new deepwater port at Oakajee, near Geraldton.

A Gindalbie spokesman said production from the site was expected to be well in excess of the previously forecast 8 million tons per annum (Mtpa).

He said a recent assessment of a total of 2.4 billion tons of ore was five times greater than an estimate made two years ago.

Gindalbie managing director Garret Dixon said the WA government's approval cleared the way for a fourth-quarter start to on-site construction and development.

"With this final state approval, Gindalbie and AnSteel are now in a position to focus on the construction phase of the project and to begin to realize the potential that Karara has to add serious value to the joint venture partners and to WA," he said.

The Karara project is expected to cost more than 2 billion Australian dollars (1.7 billion U.S. dollars) and to generate over 1,500 jobs during the construction phase, with 500 ongoing jobs once the site is established.