Fortescue’s Chichester Hub is located in the Chichester Ranges in the Pilbara region of Western Australia, 263km south of Port Hedland and 150km north of Newman.
It encompasses Cloudbreak mine and Christmas Creek mine. The total Chichester Hub produces 90 million tonnes per annum (mpta) of iron ore plus an additional six mtpa from a joint venture with BC Iron.
Cloudbreak was Fortescue’s first mine site. Its first shipment of iron ore was sent in May 2008. It currently processes 40 million tonnes per annum (mtpa).
The horizontal nature of the iron ore deposits at Cloudbreak required an innovative mining approach to that traditionally used at other mines to extract vertical deposits of ore.
At Cloudbreak, the overburden is removed using conventional blast, truck and shovel methods. Specially designed surface miners cut and load the ore into trucks for transport to the run of mine stockpiles, which is where the ore is blended to customers’ requirements.
Screening, crushing and desand plants at the Cloudbreak ore processing facility (OPF) prepare and refine the product before the ore is stockpiled ahead of transport to port. The train loadout (TLO) facility is capable of feeding 16,000 tonnes of ore per hour on the 2.7 kilometre-long trains that make the journey along the custom built, heavy haul railway to the unloading facilities at Herb Elliott Port in Port Hedland.
Christmas Creek, located 50kms east of Cloudbreak, began mining operations in May 2009. Following two expansions, completed in April 2011 and September 2012, the mine’s processing facilities have a combined throughput capacity of more than 50mtpa.
The Christmas Creek expansion also saw a 50km extension to the existing Port Hedland to Cloudbreak rail line to transport the ore from Christmas Creek to Cloudbreak and onto Herb Elliott Port.
The development also included:
- increasing the village capacity to 1600 rooms
- construction of a 6.3km overland conveyor and remote crushing hub
- an airstrip
- expanding the power station
- 2007, Cloudbreak mining commenced
- 2008, May - First Cloudbreak shipment
- 2009, May - Christmas Creek mining commenced
- 2011, April - Christmas Creek OPF1 commissioned
- 2011, May - First ore on train at Christmas Creek
- 2012, September - Christmas Creek OPF2 commissioned