On 16 November 1987, Sinosteel entered an unincorporated Joint Venture Arrangement (Original JVA) with Rio Tinto iron Ore (RTIO) to jointly (Sinosteel holding 40%) benefit from the development and operation of the Channar Mine. The hematite iron ore mine is located in the Pilbara region of Western Australia, approximately 20 kilometres south-east of Paraburdoo. Under the Original JVA 200 million tonnes of or was produced and in December 2010 an Extension Agreement was signed to produce a further 50 million tonnes of iron ore. This agreement was then further extended in 2016 to allow for the production of an additional 30 million tonnes of iron ore from the Channar Mine. The second Extension will be completed in 2019. A third Extension Agreement was agreed in 2017 for the production of a further 10 million tonnes of iron ore by 2020.
Over a period of 30 years to date approximately 260 million tonnes of iron ore have been produced by the joint venture and sold to Chinese steel mills through Sinosteel. What was China’s first ever mining joint venture has become a landmark in Australia-China relations fostered over decades of successful cooperation.
The mine is an open pit operation with site-based processing facilities. Ore from Channar passes through two stages of crushing before it is conveyed to the Paraburdoo central plant for further processing before being loaded onto rail. Ore is then transported as lump and fine ore product from the mines to Dampier via the Hamersley & Robe River railway. Iron ore is stacked and blended with ore from other mines operated by RTIO before being loaded onto ships.