The Solomon Hub is located 120km west of the Chichester Hub. It comprises the Firetail mine and the Kings mine.
More than three billion tonnes of resources have been identified at Solomon, providing Fortescue with a long term, low cost production strategy.
Early earthworks commenced at Solomon in late 2011, with significant greenfields construction work undertaken since to develop the 60 million tonnes per annum (mtpa) operation. The development comprises two stages – Firetail, which will produce 20mtpa and the Kings mine that will produce 40mtpa.
The industry timeframe for delivering 40mtpa from a traditional mining development is 12 years but Solomon will reach that capacity in just over three years, ahead of even the company’s four-year target.
The US$3.5 billion Solomon site has two OPFs, three crushing hubs, a 125MW power station, its own airstrip and three camps to house 3000 people.
Mining commenced at Firetail in late 2012. The Train Load Out (TLO) facility was commissioned in late November 2012 and the first ore was transported on the new Fortescue Hamersley Line in December 2012. Stage One of the US$3.2 billion development was officially opened on 6 May 2013. It produces 20mtpa.
Fortescue geologists Neil Clarke and Doug Kepert discovered the ore deposits at Firetail in 2005 by following ancient river systems from outcropping ore west towards the coast instead of east and north as experts suggested.
In March 2014, Fortescue officially opened its 40 million per annum (mtpa) Kings Valley project at the Solomon Hub, marking the completion of the US$9.2 billion expansion of its Pilbara operations.
The Solomon Hub represents a valuable new source of low cost production for Fortescue with its low strip ratios playing an important in role in reducing the company’s overall operating costs. The Firetail and Kings Valley projects have evolved Fortescue’s product mix. Channel Iron Deposit (CID) ore produced from Kings Valley will become a new stand-alone product while ore from Firetail is blended with Chichester ores to create the well-received Fortescue Blend.
In December 2012, Fortescue opened the 129 kilometre Solomon Railway that connects Solomon to Fortescue’s mainline to Herb Elliott Port. The operation started loading at 16 trains per month, increasing to 55 trains per month at full production.