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About: The Nicholas Downs manganese mine in Western Australia was formerly known as Balfour Downs. It is reported to contain over two billion tonnes of manganese ore described as high grade Marra Mamba iron deposits. The iron content of this grade of iron ore averages around 62 percent although it can vary significantly. It does , however, have a low phosphorus content, usually no more than 0.07 percent. Alumina and silica content is also relatively low. The colour of marra mamba iron ore is usually a readily recognisable mixture of brown, yellow and grey. The Nicholas Downs deposit also contains more than 500 million tonnes of ferruginous manganese.

First Mining Leases for Nicholas Downs Manganese Development Granted in 1982

The Nicholas Downs open cut mine, that is owned by Mineral Resources and Hancock Prospecting, is located 130 kilometres north of Newman in the eastern part of the ore rich Pilbara region of Western Australia and comprises three mining leases that were first granted in 1982.

From Agreement to First Shipment in two Years

In 2008 Hancock Prospecting Pty Ltd and Mineral Resources Limited reached an agreement on exploiting the manganese deposit at Nicholas Downs as an iron ore processing and export operation. In October 2009, Mineral Resources announced that operations were to commence at Nicholas Downs mine from March, 2010. It was announced at the time that a processing plant would be constructed on site and Mineral Resources would mobilise all the necessary equipment. Initial production figures were to be 60,000 tonnes of iron ore a month containing 38 percent ferruginous manganese. The first shipment was booked out of Port Hedland for July 2010.

The momentous moment of the first exportation of Nicholas Downs iron ore took place as predicted when the MV 'Bulk Navigator' berthed at Port Hedland and was duly loaded with 25,000 tonnes for shipment to China. When the fully loaded ship left the port for its destination there was still more ore left at the port waiting for the next ship to arrive. The initial production rate was 45,000 tonnes a month which was soon raised to the predicted 60,000 tonnes a month.

The Largest Shipment of Iron Ore Ever to leave an Australian Port

If the loading of the MV 'Bulk Navigator' was treated as a big occasion by both Hancock Prospecting and Mineral Resources, it was nothing compared to the occasion when the biggest manganese shipment ever to leave an Australian port took place at Port Hedland in February 2011 when the Panamax sized 'Bulk Pangaea' was loaded with 51,847 tonnes of manganese ore from the Nicholas Downs mine. This loading was part of a record 71,343 tonne shipment to leave the port at the one time. This event made the North Downs mine one of Western Australia's premier manganese mines.

Hancock Prospecting is an Australian company that has had a long relationship with the Pilbara region of Western Australia The first ore body in the region was discovered by Lang Hancock, the company's founder, in 1952. Mount Tom Price was the first development of the Lang Hancock iron ore discoveries.

Hancock Prospecting

Hancock Prospecting Pty Ltd (HPPL) is an Australian company that is operating in the Pilbara and the iron ore sector.Founded by Lang Hancock in 1952 a progression of 10 iron ore mines have been developed from original Hancock discoveries, the first being Tom Price in 1966.The company is now led more


Hancock Prospecting
HPPL House 28-42 Ventnor Ave
West Perth, WA 6005

PO Locked Bag No 2
West Perth, WA 6872


Phone08 9429 8222
fax08 9429 8266

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