Jupiter shelves Mt Ida project
Jupiter shelves Mt Ida project

UPDATE 1.45pm: Brian Gilbertson's Jupiter Mines has shelved development of its $1.6 billion Mt Ida magnetite project north-west of Menzies, blaming higher than expected capital and operating costs, depressed iron ore prices and the strong Australian dollar.

Ahead of its annual general meeting today, the company also announced it would withdraw from its intended participation in the expansion of the Esperance port.

Jupiter said it would freeze expenditure on the project until market conditions improved, a move that would save it $20 million over the next six months.

"Jupiter will retain its ownership of Mount Ida and will continue to meet its minimum expenditure obligations on the tenements with a view to protecting the value of the earlier work for potential future development," the company said in a statement.

Jupiter said the future viability and development of Mount Ida remained dependent, in part, on the State Government ensuring that a suitable port and rail solution was available in the Yilgarn region.

Mt Ida hosts a resource of 1.2 billion tonnes at 29.79 per cent iron.

The company said it would intensify work on its second project, the Mount Mason direct shipping ore project, the viability of which, it said, depended on gaining access to ship loading capacity at the Esperance port.

Jupiter said its third project, the Tshipi Borwa manganese mine in South Africa, was progressing according to plan, on time and within budget. The first shipment of ore from the mine to customers was expected before the end of the year.

The mine has a targeted production rate of 2.4mtpa.

Jupiter said it remained debt free, with a consolidated cash position of about $100 million.

Jupiter is chaired by former BHP Billiton chief executive Brian Gilbertson, whose company Pallinghurst Steel holds a 16.66 per cent stake.

The world's fourth biggest steelmaker POSCO holds 14 per cent stake in the company.

Jupiter shares closed off half a cent, or 3.7 per cent, at 13 cents.

The West Australian

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