FEL had a busy December, submitting a work approval application for the project with the WA Department of Water and Environment Regulation and beginning negotiations for infrastructure access.
It expects to begin mining during the current quarter as it locks in key mining and sales contracts and makes a final investment decision.
That will be followed, FEL says, by shipment in the June quarter, alongside an assessment of second-phase mining at the project, which it hopes to begin in the September quarter.
Sky’s the limit
Late last year, Fe Limited chairman Tony Sage said shareholders should be extremely excited for the company’s 2021 prospects.
“With iron ore demand extremely strong at present having a mature project like JWD that has the ability to supply high-grade iron ore to the market in the near term has significant value to our shareholders,” he said.
“We expect to receive this approval in the Q/E March 2021 and in the meantime, our experienced team continues to work on port, transport and offtake agreements.”
Sage last week demonstrated his confidence in Fe’s near-term iron ore production strategy by exercising five million options, valued at $100,000, some five months before they were due to expire.
Iron ore market rising
The iron ore market continues to rise amid strong fundamentals, including increased demand, particularly from China, and higher prices.
China recently outlined its new 15-year plan which further boosts confidence for FEL and the industry as a whole.
Iron ore was fetching US$169 per tonne on Tuesday – not far from the record prices of around US$193/tonne seen in 2011 during the tail-end of the commodities boom.
Fe Limited’s latest presentation shows the company has assets on its books to pique investor interest.
Aside from the JWD project, Fe also now has a 50 per cent stake in the Yarram iron ore project in the Northern Territory, meaning the company now has a two-pronged iron ore production strategy.
Yarram is not as advanced as JWD at this stage, but Sage said Fe would commence drilling, environmental and stakeholder work at the beginning of 2021.
Fe hopes the first iron ore product will ship from Yarram three months after a development decision, which is expected in the December quarter, following exploratory drilling and a JORC resource estimate.
In addition to its iron ore prospects, Fe also has interests in gold and lithium projects in the Pilbara and multi-element joint venture projects in the Byrah Basin.
Fe shareholders have responded to the optimism with shares reaching a high of 4.4 cents on Tuesday, representing a 193 per cent year-on-year rise.
- Daniel Paproth