A new South Australian iron ore mine has been approved to feed Whyalla’s steelworks at cheaper cost, and another to boost iron ore exports from the region.
The new mining leases have been approved in the Middleback Range on Eyre Peninsula and add to Whyalla businessman Sanjeev Gupta’s assets portfolio.
His company SIMEC Mining has gained approval for the Iron Sultan mine – which will feed the Whyalla steelworks – and the Iron Warrior mine, which will produce up to 1.5 million tonnes of export iron ore annually.
The ventures are expected to support a workforce of 56 as well as another 130 contractors.
They are the first approvals for the Whyalla region since SIMEC acquired Middleback Range mining leases as par of Gupta GFG Alliance’s purchase of debt-laden steelmaker Arrium.
SA Mineral Resources Minister Tom Koutsantonis said the Iron Sultan mine would develop a hybrid pellet plant to significantly reduce the price of making steel at the Whyalla blast furnace.
“Iron Sultan will play a significant role in reducing the costs of steelmaking at Whyalla steelworks, while Iron Warrior continues South Australia’s role as a reliable iron ore exporter,” he said.
“Approval of these two mines demonstrates the commitment of the new owner to develop its South Australian iron ore assets and create a more sustainable steelmaking business.”
Mr Gupta has also invested in South Australian renewable energy company ZEN, and has flagged the prospect of buying equipment from Adelaide’s former Holden factory with a view to electric vehicle production in the future.
Premier Jay Weatherill and Mr Koutsantonis announced the new mining leases during an electioneering tour of the Upper Spencer Gulf region.