Hope Downs JV
Hope Downs Iron Ore (HDIO), a subsidiary of HPPL and part of the Hancock group, secured a State Agreement for the Hope Downs temporary tenements in December 1992 , and based on that more secure title, was able to progress exploration and evaluation work, then finished a pre-feasibility study and commenced a Bankable Feasibility Study. In 1998 HDIO secured Iscor of South Africa as a partner to help fund the completion of the Hope Downs Bankable Feasibility Study. Iscor later “unbundled” and the partner became Kumba, a smaller and less financially strong company. The Hope Downs project was delayed by various events, including negotiations to share infrastructure with BHP Billiton Iron Ore (BHPBIO), the takeover of Kumba by Anglo, and Anglo’s commitment to the South African Government that it would focus its iron ore investments in South Africa. This caused a problem for the Hope Downs project, including its title continuing, as the state agreement included that the Hope Downs partners would submit a timely financeable development proposal.
After a successful arbitration and government imposed difficulties with accessing Port Hedland (the then selected port for Hope Downs), on 1 July 2005 Kumba was replaced by Rio Tinto Iron Ore when the company announced agreement to enter into the Hope Downs Joint Venture (HDJV), a 50 / 50 joint venture between Hope Downs Iron Ore (HDIO) and Rio Tinto Iron Ore. First production from the A$1.3 billion Hope Downs Mine was achieved in November 2007 with first railing of ore over the new “Lang Hancock Railway” (named in honour of Lang Hancock) to Dampier achieved prior to Christmas 2007.
Following the success of this first mine, further investment enabled the commencement one year later of its second major mine, Hope South, which increased production capacity to approximately 30Mtpa. Hope Downs North and Hope Downs South are both primarily Marra Mamba deposits and are distinct deposits that form part of Hope 1.
Following the achievements at both Hope 1 North and South, Hope Downs 4 was subsequently developed and commenced production in 2013. Hope 4 is a Brockman hosted Iron Ore deposit located approximately 30km north of Newman, with a reserve of 162Mt as at 2016, and currently provides production tonnage of approximately 15Mtpa.
Today Hope Downs comprises three successful operating open pit mines (Hope 1 North, Hope 1 South and Hope 4) producing high-grade lump and fines products.
The project utilizes a fly-in-fly out workforce across a range of cultures and operates with an excellent record in the areas of health and safety. Maintaining these high standards and reliability for its customers are key areas of management focus.
Hope Downs currently has total production capacity of approximately 47Mtpa and represents one of Australia’s largest and most successful iron ore projects in the lower cost quartile. A further project, called baby Hope is nearing production, also located in Hope 1 making once in production, four operating mines in the Hope Downs joint venture.
The risks that needed to be overcome – the efforts, focus, hard work, persistence and investment by HPPL and its subsidiary over many years – plus the additional risks, endeavours and expense to achieve the myriad of thousands of government approvals, permits and licences – built a foundation for such successful projects and should enable the Hancock Prospecting Group to continue to contribute to the growth of the Pilbara region, West Australia and the nation for many decades to come.
Hope downs was named in honour of Hope Hancock.