South Korea steps up support for Australian iron ore

<p>South Korea, a staple market for the iron ore trades, has stepped up its support for Australian production.</p> <p>Steel maker Posco is starting a joint venture with producer BHP Billiton as BHP Billiton signalled what it calls a new era of growth at its Western Australian iron ore operations.</p> <p>In an official ceremony Western Australia’s premier, Geoff Gallop, opened the new Area C mine.</p> <p>The launch of the $213m project &#8211 of which the BHP Billiton share is $181m &#8211 with mine, rail and processing facilities cemented the joint venture with the leading South Korean steel producer.</p> <p>Under what is termed the Posmac venture, Posco has committed itself to purchase 3m tonnes of ore a year and to maintain a long-term strategic alliance with BHP Billiton Iron Ore for the supply of other iron ore products.</p> <p>Area C is 120 km northwest of Newman and contains a mineral resource of 820m tonnes of what is called by the company MAC Marra Mamba ore. </p> <p>Initial mining is being carried out at the C deposit, which has an ore reserve of 204m tonnes.</p> <p>The mine is connected, by means of a 39 km spur line, to the railway system linking BHP Billiton Iron Ore’s existing mines at Newman and Yandi to its ship loading facilities at Port Hedland.</p> <p>First ore was railed from Area C to the port of Nelson Point on August 16 this year, with the first shipment of the trademarked MAC ore leaving on September 24.</p> <p>Construction of the Area C mine and associated rail link was completed three months ahead of schedule and within budget, said the mining conglomerate.</p> <p>The mine has a design capacity to produce up to 15m tonnes of ore annually and the plant and equipment have been designed to allow further expansion in line with market requirements.</p> <p>The president and chief executive of Posco, Kang Chang-Oh, said that the joint venture was an excellent model of iron ore suppliers and steel mills working together to take an existing relationship to an even higher level of success.</p> <br />