Ship to boost iron-sands export volume

Last updated 05:00 01/01/2014

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New Zealand's iron-sands exports will get a boost with the introduction of a third ship to service the Taharoa iron-sands mine.

Australian listed company, and owner of New Zealand Steel, BlueScope Steel will add a third ship to its New Zealand iron-sands operation in the west coast town of Taharoa, BlueScope said in an announcement on the ASX last week.

BlueScope said the introduction of a third ship in the 2016 financial year would add 1.3 million tonnes a year to the export capacity of the Taharoa site.

BlueScope said this year it was introducing a second ship to service its Taharoa site.

New Zealand Steel said in October it was building a new $1.5 million plant at the Taharoa iron-sand mine to grow its production capability.

The second ship was scheduled to start running in 2015 and the third ship in 2016.

BlueScope said it expected iron-sand exports from the Taharoa site, south of Kawhia, to lift to 4 million tonnes a year by the 2016 financial year.

The third ship was a 175,000 tonne slurry-loading vessel.

The company also planned to spend an additional A$50m (NZ$54.4m) during the 2016 and 2018 financial years on mining, processing and ship-loading equipment.

BlueScope managing director Paul O'Malley said the company believed there were sufficient resources at the Taharoa site to extract 4 millon tonnes of iron sands a year for at least 15 years.

"This expansion is good news for our New Zealand business, the local community of Taharoa and the wider New Zealand community," O'Malley said.

The Taharoa mine site, which covers 1300 hectares, is leased from Maori landowners.

New Zealand Steel had mined the site since 1972, with exports peaking at 2 million tonnes in the late 1970s, the company's website said.

New Zealand Steel also operated a steel mill in Glenbrook in South Auckland and the Waikato North Head mine.

Iron is extracted from the iron sands and can be made into steel.

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