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The Mount Whaleback open cut mine, in the iron ore rich Pilbara Region of Western Australia, six kilometres west of the mining town of Newman, was established in 1968. It is now the largest single pit iron ore mine in the world stretching more than five kilometres in length, 1.5 kilometres in width and nearing a depth of half a kilometre. It has a number of smaller deposits in its immediate vicinity that include orebodies 29, 30 and 35, as well as smaller satellite mines such as the Wheelarra and orebodies 18, 23, 24 and 25. Further to the north west are the Area C and Yandi iron ore mines. Another mine is the Yarrie that is located 200 kilometres from Port Hedland.

Mount Whaleback Mine Majority Owned by BHP Billiton
The Mount Whaleback mine is owned by BHP Billiton with 85 percent, Mitsu Iron with 10 percent and Itochu Minerals five percent. BHP Billiton also operate two port facilities at Port Hedland in northern Western Australia from where they export the iron ore the company mines in the Pilbara. These facilities are at Finucane Island and Nelson Point. To get the ore from the mine sites to the port, BHP Billiton operate more than 1,000 kilometres of railway.

BHP Billiton Expanding Production at its Pilbara Mines
Following the successful completion of BHP Billiton's PACE (Products and Capacity Expansion) project in February 2004 it undertook another upgrade project it called its Rapid Growth Projects, one, two, three, four, five and six. These projects will give BHP Billiton iron ore operations a capacity to produce 300 million tonnes of iron ore a year by 2015.

Mount Whaleback is a major part of BHP Billiton's Pilbara iron ore mining operations that, in total, represent the second largest iron ore enterprise in the region, employing around 13,000 people, behind only Rio Tinto. Fortescue Metals Group is the third largest.

Mount Whaleback Mine Initially Developed by Bechtel Pacific
Bechtel Pacific were the original developers of the Mount Whaleback iron ore project. By the time Mount Whaleback was ready to begin production BHP Billiton had become the mine's majority owner. The first shipment of iron ore from Mount Whaleback left Port Hedland in April 1969 to be used in the steel mills of Japan. The nearby town of Newman was constructed to house workers at the Mount Whaleback mine and their families and the first railway linking the mine to Port Hedland, a distance of 426 kilometres, was also built. The town of Newman remained a 'closed' mining town servicing the nearby mines until 1981.

Mount Whaleback Orebody Discovered in 1957
Although Stan Hilditch discovered the iron ore deposit at Mount Whaleback in 1957, it was not made widely known until 1960 as, at the time, the Australian Government had placed an embargo on the export of the mineral because of the belief, at the time, that it was in short supply. It is now accepted that the Hamersley Range, where Mount Whaleback is located, contains at least 33 billion tonnes of iron ore. By the end of 1997 the Mount Whaleback mine alone was producing iron ore at the rate of 31 million tonnes a year.

BHP Billiton

BHP Billiton have been in the industry for over 150 years & are among the largest producers of major commodities such as aluminium, copper, coal, iron ore, silver & branching out into oil & gas.They have over 100 locations throughout the world & employ more than 100,000 employees & more


BHP Billiton
171 Collins Street
Melbourne, VIC 3000


Phone13 0055 4757
fax03 9609 3015

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