Bulk Carriers to Cut Costs at Nowa Nowa
Australia’s Eastern Iron Limited has received a scoping level report from independent shipping consultants, Innovative Shipping Group Pty Ltd (ISG), which has investigated the potential to load iron concentrate directly to suitably configured bulk carrying vessels directly off the Victorian coast some 20 kilometres from the Nowa Nowa mine site.
ISG has advised that “the study has clearly demonstrated that the technologies required to deliver a slurry to ship logistics solution are already available, proven mature technologies.”
The combined use of a slurry pipeline and self-decanting bulk carriers has shown the potential to deliver an upgraded iron product at an all in FOB cost of approximately AUD 41/t (USD 34.8/t). This transport solution will significantly reduce road transportation of iron product from 234 to 15 kilometres.
It is proposed that mined and beneficiated iron ore would be delivered from the mine either by truck or slurry pipeline some 15 km to a point close to the coast. The iron ore would then be stockpiled and during ship loading, mixed with water at a specified solid to water ratio, loaded into a slurry line and pumped offshore directly onto +100,000 tonne vessels.
The bulk carrier would be attached to a single-point bottom-anchored mooring. The slurry line is secured to the sea floor and enters the vessel at the mooring point.
Selected shipping operators have been involved in the study and have advised that minimal modifications would be required to existing +100,000 tonne ore-bulk-oil vessels for the purpose.
Eastern Iron Chief Executive Officer, Greg De Ross said: “We are excited by the potential benefits of a slurry operation and at an FOB cost of AUD 41.1 per tonne the project has the potential to be viable even under the current depressed market conditions but with significant leverage to a return to higher prices in the future. We will be working with our consultants over the coming months to further optimise this proposal.”