A new iron ore mine in the Northern Territory shipped its first load to China yesterday for testing in steel mills.
Sherwin Iron is operating a project in NT’s Roper River region, 475 km south east of Darwin.
ABC reports the miner has worked for months to stockpile its ore at the East Arm Wharf, before loading its first 70,000 tonne shipment.
Yesterday’s load was the first of three headed for China where testing will take place in three steel mills.
If the ore meets the requirements of the mills, Sherwin Iron are expected to start full production in 2015.
The first ore exported is classified as a bulk sample, and as such the company was not required to submit an environmental impact statement to extract it.
The Northern Territory’s Minister for Mines and Energy, Willem Westra van Holthe, said the process was not uncommon.
"We have allowed a bulk sample to come out (of this mine), because it's simply that, a sample, it's not full-blown mining and the relative disturbance to the ground is quite small," he said.
"It allows the company to assess the economics of the project by being able to pull some ore out of the ground, send it across to to be smelted and tested to see whether China actually wants this stuff."
Sherwin Iron has said the mine will export 200 million tonnes over its 20-year lifespan.
Westra van Holthe said the operation would prove a beneficial for the state.
"This project will see the employment of up to 300 people when it's fully operational," he said.
"The Territory Government is fully committed to doing whatever it can to see this project succeed.
"The level of economic activity in the Roper region is encouraging and I look forward to seeing the long-term benefits the mine site brings to the Roper region."