An $800 million chemical plant to produce technical ammonium nitrate, used as explosives in iron ore mining, has officially commissioned on the Burrup Peninsula, north of Karratha, Australia. This is in the resource rich Pilbara region and is a joint venture between Norwegian company Yara International and Australia’s Orica Limited. With a production capacity of 330,000 tonnes of ammonium nitrate per annum, the plant will be fully operational by the end of 2016. The plant is fully integrated with the neighbouring Yara Pilbara Fertilisers ammonia plant, which exports 800,000 tonnes of ammonia per annum to world markets. The joint venture will first use natural gas from Western Australia to create a highly valued ammonia and further process it to deliver ammonium nitrate. This will reflect the long-term value that Yara sees in their business in Australia.
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According to the Steel Index, the Northern China benchmark iron ore price remained unchanged at $55.70 per dry metric tonne on Friday. After a steep selloff over the first two weeks of May, the flexibility of the 62% Fe CFR Tianjin port assessment has come as a surprise. Although it has come down from its April high of $68.70 due to the made-in-China bubble in iron ore reaching its peak, it is holding to a 50% gains from a more than 8-year low in mid-December.
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Rio Tinto, the Anglo-Australian mining giant, submitted feasibility studies to the Guinean government for a massive Simandou iron ore project, considered to be the world’s biggest untapped iron ore deposit. It is a step towards tapping the 2 Billion tonnes deposits at a cost of about $20 Billion. The feasibility studies outlines the development of the mine and related infrastructure.
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Iron ore prices in Asia soared after Chinese policy makers signalled their wilingness to support growth, with prices rallying even as the authorities reiterated pledges to cut excess industrial capacity, including in steel. The share of minerssoared to 24% with Australia’s Fortescue Metals Group Ltd. Futures surged to their daily limit of 407 yuan ($62.47) a metric ton on the Dalian Commodity Exchange, the highest in almost six months.In the meanwhile in Singapore, the SGX AsiaClear contract jumped 19% to $58.95 a ton. In Sydney trading, Fortescue’s shares rallied while Rio Tinto Group and BHP Billiton Ltd. also climbed.
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