Gina Rinehart has added a touch more pressure to the construction team at her $10 billion Roy Hill iron ore project, saying an already-ambitious plan to ship first ore in September next year could be brought forward.
Mrs Rinehart made the comment in a statement posted on the Roy Hill website yesterday to mark the start of first mining. The high-grade ore was mined in April by a contractor.
Roy Hill reached the 50 per cent completion mark in July and Mrs Rinehart said Roy Hill's September 2015 target for first ore on ship could be beaten.
"Roy Hill's staff morale is high, and the hardworking team hope to be able to bring the first shipment due September 2015, ahead of time," she said.
"We have realised another significant milestone in the life of the project, with the first official owner/operator mining taking place in the Pilbara."
Mrs Rinehart did not give any indication of when first ore could be shipped, and a spokesperson for Roy Hill did not respond to a request for comment.
This year's tumbling iron ore price has cast serious doubts over the future profitability and expansion plans of the Pilbara's mid-tier iron ore miners. But Roy Hill is on track to join Rio Tinto and BHP Billiton to next year add to a seaborne iron ore market already flushed with capacity.
Roy Hill chief executive Barry Fitzgerald said earlier this year the company had no concerns the falling prices would impact Roy Hill's ability to repay back its $US7.2 billion project debt, saying the 55 million tonne-a-year project was profitable at almost any price.