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FMG heavy haul expansion approved

Fortescue Metals Group (FMG) has approved a US$8.4bn expansion plan which includes US$4.6bn in heavy haul rail and port facilities.

The 30-month project woiuld reportedly see FMG’s Pilbara ore production capacity in Western Australia increased from 55 to 155 million tonnes/year.

Greenfields rail works would include 130km of new track connecting the mainline to FMG’s new Solomon mining hub, with Abigroup and NRW to commence early works on the mainline upgrade from March quarter 2011.

The company’s brownfields rail work would include 120km of track duplication together with two new rail loops feeding a new dual-train unloader at Port headland.

Seven new rakes of wagons would be acquired taking the company’s fleet to 12.

FMG’s signals and communications system would also be upgraded.

The company also reported that feasibility studies are advancing for a new multi-user facility at Anketell Point/Dixon Island to be linked by a 250km rail line from the Solomon Stage 2 Hub together with the development of new mines around the rail head.

The project would include a new central Pilbara rail line, similar to the existing Hedland rail facilities but with capacity to accommodate longer trains.

The new port would provide a staged ramp up of FMG’s export capacity to 100 million tonnes per annum with an additional 100mtpa in the future. Start-up is targeted for 2014.

Meanwhile, Australian iron ore developer Brockman Resources has held advanced negotiations with FMG to fund a US$500m branch line from its Marilliana iron ore project in the Pilbara to FMG’s existing railway.

The agreement would see Brockman use FMG’s end-to-end rail haulage, port handling and ship-loading facilities and marketing services for its Marillana iron ore project in the Pilbara region, WA.