UPDATE 1.25pm: Shares in contractor Macmahon jumped after it announced it was in the box seat to win a five-year, $1.8 billion mining contract for Fortescue Metals Group's Christmas Creek mine in the Pilbara.
Macmahon said the contract, for which it had been named preferred tenderer, would be its biggest ever.
"Macmahon would operate and maintain the fleet required for the contract, most of which will be supplied by the client, with work to ramp up to full production by mid-2013," the company said in a statement.
"Negotiations regarding the final contract are continuing and are expected to finalise by the end of November."
The news will provide some comfort to long-suffering shareholders who saw Macmahon's share price plunge 50 per cent last month after the contractor announced a steep profit downgrade, mainly because of big cost overruns on a Rio Tinto rail contract.
The downgrade forced long-serving chief executive Nick Bowen to resign. Mr Bowen has since been replaced by Ross Carroll, the chief operating officer of Macmahon's mining business.Macmahon shares closed up 2.5 cents, or 8.48 per cent, at 32 cents after touching 34.5 cents in earlier trade, still a far cry from the 89.5 cents peak it traded at in March.
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