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Cliffs Natural Resources, the owner of the Windarling Open Cut Iron Ore Mine in Western Australia, is a global miner with major mining operations around the world. It acquired the Windarling deposit when it took over Portman Limited. The mine is 27 kilometres from Mount Jackson, a part of the Cliffs Natural Resources Koolyanobbing iron mining operations. It is serviced by RML Group Mining Services which is contracted to supply maintenance and labour personnel on a fly in fly out basis to work a two weeks on, one week off roster.

The Windarling Iron ore Deposits

The mineralisation of the iron ore deposits at Windarling has a true width of around 25 metres that gives it an inferred and indicated resource of almost 52 million tonnes with a grading of over 63 percent. There are five deposits occurring at Windarling that exist in two parallel zones of BIF (banded iron formation) 600 metres apart at the western extremity converging at the eastern extremity.

The iron ore deposits at the Windarling Open Cut Mine are known as W1, W2, W3, W4 and W5. W4 being the most prominent. The deposits have a strike length of about 950 metres. Current environmental restrictions have limited access to only 30 percent of the ore body although there is confidence that this can be extended to 50 percent in future years. The W5 deposit exists about 250m metres from W3 and has a strike length of 1050 metres. The W2 deposit is the southernmost BIF. It has a strike length of over 1,000 metres. Ore mined from the Windarling mine is transported by truck to the railhead at Koolyanobbing 120 kilometres away where it is processed before being loaded onto railway trucks for the trip to the Esperance port where it is shipped out to the company's international steel producing customers.

The Push for Better Port Facilities at Esperance

Western Australian iron ore miners operating in the Yilgarn Region of the state are placing pressure on the state government to upgrade the port facilities at Esperance, in the state's south, to have it handle a minimum of 30 million tonnes of iron ore a year. It is currently limited to just 12 million tonnes. The Windarling mine exports all its production through the Esperance port. Other mining companies, along with Cliffs Natural Resources, have therefore formed the Yilgarn Iron Producers Association with the objective of getting agreement among the miners themselves to have the port and rail infrastructure expanded to cater for increased production. It is estimated that the area contains potential reserves of one billion tonnes of hematite and 10 billion tonnes of magnetite . Better infrastructure could therefore lead to the area becoming a major iron ore province that could equal that of the Pilbara.

The iron ore operations in the Yilgarn Region that are carried out by Cliffs Asia Pacific Iron Ore Pty Ltd include the ore processing plant at Koolyanobbing as well as the operating of mines in the Koolyanobbing Range, the Mt Jackson Range, and the Windarling Range.

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