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MinRes promises worker redeployment after Yilgarn closure

Mineral Resources (MinRes) has promised to redeploy as many workers as possible following its decision to cease its Yilgarn iron ore operations.

ASX-listed MinRes completed a comprehensive viability assessment, which, according to the company, confirmed Yilgarn was not “financially viable” beyond the end of 2024. It will mean the Yilgarn Hub iron ore shipments will end by December 31, 2024.  

While this change will impact 1,000 employees, MinRes has committed to redeploying as many workers as possible, including at its Onslow iron project.  

“With our investment across Western Australia, we have almost 800 vacancies and will redeploy as many of our people as possible to other MinRes operations, including to our low-cost, long-life Onslow Iron project,” Mineral Resources managing director Chris Ellison said.  

“MinRes has been an owner-operator in the Yilgarn since our maiden shipment from Carina in 2011. In 2018, the company saved hundreds of Western Australian jobs at the Koolyanobbing iron ore mine with the support of the State Government. 

“I want to thank everyone whose hard work and dedication over the past 13 years made this challenging operation a great success.”  

By the end of 2024, according to MinRes, it would have exported 45 million tonnes via the Port of Esperance and spent $4.2 billion running its Yilgarn operations over the six and a half years of running the operation.  

The company, as reported by the ABC, will maintain a presence at the Port of Esperance with its exports from its Mt Marion and Bald Hill lithium mines. 

MinRes pointed to limited remaining mine life at the operation and the significant capital costs and lead time required to develop new resources as reasons for the decision.  

In its statement, the company confirmed Yilgarn Hub operations will safely ramp down in a staged approach over the next six months, with up to four million wet metric tonnes expected to be shipped by the end of the calendar year. Mining operations will then transition into care and maintenance from early 2025. The company will consider future options for its Yilgarn assets including rehabilitation or disposal while exploration drilling and environmental studies focused on hematite and magnetite targets will continue into calendar year 2025.  

Southern Ports, which operates the Port of Esperance, said its workers would be its immediate priority following the decision.  

“Our staff are our immediate priority, and we will be working over the coming period to put a plan in place to take us forward,” Southern Ports chief executive officer Keith Wilks said.  

“There’s no doubt that this will have a major effect on the Esperance community and the wider region, which, like our port, have enjoyed a strong connection to iron ore for decades. 

“We’ll be working over the coming period to assess the situation more fully, however, given Mineral Resources is a major customer for Southern Ports and Port of Esperance, it is reasonable to assume this will have a significant impact on our operations.” 

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